ADDIS ABEBA – Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said federal forces had not killed a single civilian in their final offensive against troops in the northerly Tigray region’s capital Mekelle.
The federal military has gained full control of the capital on Saturday, marking the “completion” of an offensive that started four weeks ago.
Speaking to parliamentarians on Monday, Abiy lauded both ENDF and Special Forces’ for their successful operations in the region in general and final mission in Mekelle, the capital of Tigray.
“They said you will destroy Mekelle and so on. Mekelle is ours. It was built with our resources, we are not going to destroy it. Not even a single person was affected by the operation.”
He also said “Our ENDF (Ethiopian National Defence Force) operate with utmost discipline with care for civilians.”
The TPLF Forces were accusing the federal army of attacking civilians – which the PM dismissed.
“Every target has been signed and approved. The House [parliament] can see that. Every missile launched is backed by a signature of authority,” Abiy told lawmakers.
“Ninety-nine percent of them hit their targets and 99 percent of them didn’t have collateral damage. No country’s army can show more than this level of performance”.
The army is now in the hunt for the leaders of the TPLF, which the prime minister said are currently encircled in a small town, located near Mekelle city.
“We know that they are in Hagere Selam,” Abiy said, “the army decided against taking action as they are hiding among civilians and their families”.
“We might not let this continue for long,” he told to TPLF leaders who he said were listening to him.
Trip to Eritrea
Abiy also told to parliamentarians about his travel to Eritrea, where many Ethiopian federal troops fled when they face attacked by TPLF forces on Nov 4.
“When the Northern Command was attacked, we gave instructions for the rest to retreat to Eritrea,” he said, “Eritreans fed, dressed and armed our retreated soldiers”.
“Imagine what might have happened if we had not reconciled with Eritrea,” he continued. “I went to Eritrea with three army Generals to inspect our retreated army.”
“The forces that retreated to Eritrea regrouped and under the command of General Abebaw came back to take Shiraro.”
“The people of Eritrea have proven to us that not only are they our brothers and sisters, but also they stood by us in our time of need,” Abiy said.
He also has appreciated all the neighboring countries – Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti and Kenya – for their support during the rule of law operations.
But to others who chose to stand in opposite and tried to force the government to speak with the TPLF leaders, the PM said “My message to friends of Ethiopia is that we may be poor but we are not a country that will negotiate our sovereignty. Threatening Ethiopia for coins will not work”.