TPLF Leaders using Churches as Shelter, Govt says

ADDIS ABEBA – The government has said the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) leaders of hiding themselves and weaponries in religious institutions.

“The leaders are now leaving their houses and hotels… and they are using churches for both to store arms and to send propagandas from there,” Redwan Hussein, spokesman of the state of emergency task force in Tigray, told CNN.

As the fighting between the federal soldiers and TPLF forces rages in the region for a second week, Redwan said that national defense forces have now taken control of Shire, northwest of Mekelle, and Alamata, south of the city.

“They are closing in but it will take about 100-200 km from several directions,” the spokesman said.

TPLF forces destroyed four bridges on the road to Mekelle to stop national forces from advancing, according to Army Chief Berhanu Jula.

The federal government launched a military offensive in the restive Tigray region on November 4 after accusing its ruling party, the TPLF, of attacking federal army bases in the northern region.

Army Chief Berhanu confirmed TPLF officials are using religious institutions as their base. He also said TPLF’s plan has already faltered and the group “is now in a state of desperation”.

“The TPLF’s plan to drag Ethiopia into civil war and tear it apart has failed. It is currently in a desperate mode as it is surrounded,” Berhanu said during a press conference on Monday.

The two-week conflict has killed hundreds and sent 30,000 refugees into neighboring Sudan. Information from all sides has been impossible to verify because internet and phone connections to Tigray have been suspended.