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Ethiopia Sends Soldiers After Rebel Group After Attack On Army Base

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Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, has ordered military operation against a rebel group in the northern state of Tigray in response to an attack on a government army base earlier in the day.

In a live televised statement on Wednesday, Ahmed said the military retaliation was ordered in Tigray for the attack by “traitorous forces’’ on the Ethiopian Defense Forces personnel stationed in the region.

Ahmed was referring to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the ruling party in the Tigray region and now a rebel movement.

In recent weeks, there have been rising tensions between Ahmed’s Prosperity Party and the TPLF, with each side accusing the other of trying to destabilise the country.

Temesgen Tiruneh, president of Amhara state, Ethiopia’s second largest region that borders Tigray, told reporters that regional security forces have foiled an attack perpetrated by the TPLF across Amhara.

Tiruneh said the Amhara regional security forces are working with the Ethiopian Defense Forces in response to the TPLF attacks.

In September, Tigray held regional elections in defiance of the federal government, which called the vote “illegal”. The row has escalated in recent days with both sides accusing each other of plotting a military conflict.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) attempted to steal artillery and other equipment from federal forces stationed there, Abiy’s office said in a statement.

“The last red line has been crossed with this morning’s attacks and the federal government is therefore forced into a military confrontation,” the statement said.

The Ethiopian National Defence Forces have been ordered to carry out “their mission to save the country and the region from spiralling into instability”, it added said.

Tigray’s local government said that the Northern Command of the federal military, which is stationed in the region, had defected to its side. Billene dismissed the claim as “false information”.

Internet access monitor NetBlocks said that the Internet had been shut down in the region, confirming reports that authorities had shut down telephone and Internet services.

Debretsion Gebremichael, the president of the Tigray region, said on Monday that Abiy’s government was planning to attack the region to punish it for holding the September election.

The developments in Ethiopia could have grave consequences for the region, warned Asnake Kefale, an associate professor of political science at the University of Addis Ababa.

“This conflict could destabilise the wider region if the Ethiopian army can’t get the violence across the country under control,” Asnake said.

Tigrayans ruled Ethiopian politics since guerrilla fighters ousted a Marxist dictator in 1991, but their influence has waned under Abiy. Last year, the TPLF quit his ruling coalition.

Since Abiy came to power in 2018, many senior Tigrayan officials have been detained, fired or sidelined, in what the federal government describes as a clamp-down on corruption but Tigrayans see as a means to quell dissent.

Tigray’s population makes up 5% of Ethiopia’s 109 million people, but it is wealthier and more influential than many other, larger regions.

Its army is a well-trained force dating back to the 1980s when it led the guerrilla movement that brought the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front coalition to power, analysts say.

East Africa News

Three-Year-Drought Pushes 1.5 Million People Into Hunger In Southern Madagascar

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UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) says a three-year drought in southern Madagascar has pushed 1.5 million people – over half of the population – into crisis and in need of emergency food and nutrition assistance.

Those affected include 75,000 pregnant and breastfeeding women. Also, 100,000 children aged under 5 are in danger of acute malnutrition with about 19,000 appearing to be in a ‘severe’ situation.

The WFP said the number of people in need of assistance had tripled in the past few months.

In the worst-hit area of Amboasary, three-quarters of children have dropped out of school to help their parents look for food.

Some people are exchanging essential household items, such as cooking utensils, for food.

The WFP said about $35m is needed to avert catastrophe in the area in the coming months

WFP’s Aina Andrianalizaha, who is visiting affected areas, said people are digging into the sand to find water “but rarely find any”, adding that “they have to walk several kilometres from their villages or hamlets to fetch water”

She added: “They can no longer plant and have, as a result, come to offer to exchange their scarce cooking utensils for a piece of cassava.”

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Ethiopian Forces Capture Tigray’s Capital In Final Offensive

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Ethiopian forces have captured Mekelle, the Tigrayan capital.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced this in tweets on Saturday, as he said the “Tigrayan criminals” will now be hunted by the Federal Police.

Ahmed on Friday met African envoys in Addis Ababa and reiterated that civilians in the region will not be harmed in the final offensive.

“I am pleased to share that we have completed and ceased the military operations in the #Tigray region.

“Our focus now will be on rebuilding the region and providing humanitarian assistance while Federal Police apprehend the TPLF clique.”

He said the town is now under the control of National Defence Forces, as humanitarian assistance will be provided to inhabitants of the region.

Recall that Ethiopia earlier announced that a Tigrayan town, Wikro, 50km north of Mekelle has been captured.

Tigray officials are yet to react to the Prime Minister’s claims as the region has been cut off from internet and phone access.

Both forces have been at daggers drawn since the 4th of November when Ethiopia accused Tigrayan forces of attacking state properties.

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Gunmen Kill Police Officer, Kidnap Chinese In Nigeria’s Ekiti State

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Some unknown assailants have abducted a Chinese expatriate in Nigeria’s southwest Ekiti State.

The Police in the state confirmed the incident happened in the capital, Ado Ekiti, on Friday, adding that a police officer was killed by the gunmen.

The abductee was one of the engineers working with the Chinese company handling the new Ado-Iyin road.

The Command Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Sunday Abutu, who confirmed the incident to newsmen on telephone, said the incident occurred around 4:30 p.m. along the new Ado Ekiti-Iyin Ekiti road.

He said that the abducted Chinese was one of the Engineers handling the new road network project awarded by the present administration.

Abutu said that aside from the late police officer, one other person was also shot at the scene of the incident.

“It is confirmed that a kidnapping incident occurred today at about 4:30 p.m. along new Iyin-Ekiti road.

“During the incident, one civilian, an expatriate, was kidnapped, one shot, while one policeman was shot dead.

“Our operatives are already combing the bush for possible apprehension of the perpetrators,” he said.

Abutu said that the Commissioner of Police in Ekiti, Mr Babatunde Mobayo, urged the public to be calm in spite of the incident.

“He also enjoined them to avoid any form of apprehension as the Command would do all within its powers to ensure freedom for the kidnapped expatriate and bring the culprits to book,” he said.

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