Fighting flares in Ethiopia’s Tigray as army says closing in on rebellious force

Fighting flares in Ethiopia’s Tigray as army says closing in on rebellious force
1 / 4
Tigranyan men who fled the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region, gather to watch the news on a television, at Umm Rakouba refugee camp in Qadarif, eastern Sudan, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020. (AP)
Fighting flares in Ethiopia’s Tigray as army says closing in on rebellious force
2 / 4
People wait in line for food aid from the WFP, at the Um Rakuba refugee camp which houses Ethiopians fleeing the fighting in the Tigray region, on the the border in Sudan, December 3, 2020. (Reuters)
Fighting flares in Ethiopia’s Tigray as army says closing in on rebellious force
3 / 4
A Tigranyan girl who fled the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region, measures the oxygen level of her blood using an pulse oximetry as her father holds her, at the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) clinic, at Umm Rakouba refugee camp in Qadarif, eastern Sudan, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020. (AP)
Fighting flares in Ethiopia’s Tigray as army says closing in on rebellious force
4 / 4
Tigranyan men who fled the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region, watch the news on a television, at Umm Rakouba refugee camp in Qadarif, eastern Sudan, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020. (AP)
Short Url
Updated 05 December 2020

Fighting flares in Ethiopia’s Tigray as army says closing in on rebellious force

Fighting flares in Ethiopia’s Tigray as army says closing in on rebellious force
  • A month of fighting between PM Abiy Ahmed’s federal army and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) is believed to have killed thousands of people
  • Ahmed's His government has also jailed thousands of opponents after violent unrest, angering his rivals

ADDIS ABABA: Bombing, looting and skirmishes persisted in parts of Ethiopia’s Tigray on Saturday, a rebellious force in the northern region said after government troops declared they were within days of capturing the group’s leaders.
A month of fighting between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s federal army and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) is believed to have killed thousands of people and driven some 46,000 refugees into neighboring Sudan.
Abiy’s government has said the conflict is winding down a week after it seized Tigray’s regional capital, Mekelle, but TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael told Reuters in a text message on Saturday there was still fighting outside the city.
He said federal forces bombed the town of Abbi Adi on Friday, without giving further details, while a TPLF spokesman accused government troops of looting in Mekelle.
“(They are) looting civilian properties, hotels and damaging factories after looting,” the spokesman Getachew Reda told a TPLF-owned TV station.
The government did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Most communications in Tigray are down and access to the area is severely restricted, making it hard to verify either side’s statements.
Abiy used to be a political partner of the TPLF — which dominated Ethiopia’s governing coalition for nearly three decades — but he irked his former allies by putting Tigrayan officials on trial for corruption and rights abuses.
They said the arrests were politically motivated, accusing Abiy of trying to tighten his grip over Ethiopia’s 10 semi-autonomous federal states. Abiy denies that, and has called the TPLF leaders criminals who mutinied against federal authority.
Army Col. Shambel Beyene said late on Friday that government forces were 10 km (six miles) away from a forest in the Gore area where Debretsion, Getachew and other TPLF members were thought to be hiding.
“We will only need a few days to get to them,” he said on state television.
Relief agencies, meanwhile, are worried about a lack of food, fuel, medicines and even body bags in Tigray. Convoys are on standby to take aid in.
Residents in the central town of Shire told a new government-appointed provisional administration that the cost of groceries was sky-rocketing and fuel shortages were grounding ambulances used to take patients to hospitals.
“Residents are still staying away from their homes. Women are hiding in caves with their children,” one man said at a meeting aired on EBC late on Friday.
Others complained about looting in the town.
Abiy’s government has said it will protect civilians in the northern region and ensure their needs are met.
“Work to rebuild Tigray has commenced with teams ... undertaking repair work (and) restoring services,” he said in a Tweet on Saturday.
Abiy, who took office in 2018, won a Nobel Peace Prize the following year for making peace with neighboring Eritrea and democratic reforms.
He began opening up a closed economy, loosening a repressive political system, and taking action against those accused of corruption and rights abuses — some of whom were Tigrayan officials.
His government has also jailed thousands of opponents after violent unrest, angering his rivals.


Quake death toll at 73 as Indonesia struggles with string of disasters

Quake death toll at 73 as Indonesia struggles with string of disasters
Updated 6 min 8 sec ago

Quake death toll at 73 as Indonesia struggles with string of disasters

Quake death toll at 73 as Indonesia struggles with string of disasters
  • More than 820 people were injured and over 27,800 left their homes after the 6.2 magnitude quake
  • On Jan. 9, a Sriwijaya Air jet crashed into the Java Sea with 62 onboard
JAKARTA: At least 73 people have been killed after an earthquake struck Indonesia’s West Sulawesi province on Friday, the disaster mitigation agency (BNPB) said on Sunday, the latest in a string of disasters to hit the Southeast Asian country.
More than 820 people were injured and over 27,800 left their homes after the 6.2 magnitude quake, BNPB spokesman Raditya Jati said. Some sought refuge in the mountains, while others went to cramped evacuation centers, witnesses said.
Police and military officers have been deployed to crack down on looting in several parts of the region, Jati added.
An emergency response status, intended to help rescue efforts, has also been put in place for two weeks, he said.
Dwikorita Karnawati, the head of Indonesia’s meteorological, climatology and geophysical agency (BMKG), has said that another quake in the region could potentially trigger a tsunami.
Straddling the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, Indonesia is regularly hit by earthquakes. In 2018, a devastating 6.2-magnitude quake and subsequent tsunami struck the city of Palu, in Sulawesi, killing thousands.
Just two weeks into the new year, the world’s fourth-most populous country is battling several disasters.
Floods in North Sulawesi and South Kalimantan province each have killed at least five this month, while landslides in West Java province have killed at least 29, authorities said.
On Jan. 9, a Sriwijaya Air jet crashed into the Java Sea with 62 onboard.
East Java’s Semeru mountain erupted late on Saturday, but there have been no reports of casualties or evacuations.
Dwikorita said extreme weather and other “multi-dangers” of hydrometeorology are forecast in the coming weeks.