Abiy Ahmed gives a surprise reason for the capture of Mekelle by the Tigrayan army2 min read
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has confirmed that government forces have withdrawn from Mekelle, the capital of Tigray state, saying the reason is that the town is no longer “important”.
“When we entered Mekelle seven or eight months ago, we did it because it was the essence and core of the war,” Abiy told state media, broadcasting his video on Wednesday.
“It was the headquarters of the government. But in the time we have left, it had nothing other than 80,000 civilians and some looters. It has lost its significance,” he said.
But TPLF spokesman Getachew Reda dismissed Abiy’s remarks, saying Ethiopian troops had been forced out of the city.
“The fact that he said they left Mekelle is a clear lie. We beat them out and they have failed, ”Getachew told Reuters.
Redwan Hussein, Ethiopian government spokesman said on Tuesday that federal troops could re-enter Mekelle. “If necessary we can easily enter Mekelle, in less than three weeks,” he said.
He also said that Eritrean troops who had previously been accused of committing atrocities in the region had now also withdrawn.
But Getachew said that was not true, adding that Eritrean troops were gathering in the northern part of Tigray to “defend themselves.”
Tigrayn forces on Tuesday captured more area’s from Ethiopian Federal troops, a day after they took control of the capital city of Mekelle, after the withdrawal of the Ethiopian Federal Army.
The rebels have taken control of the town of Shire, 140 km northwest of Mekelle, according to UN security sources, who spoke to AFP.
News of Shire’s capture has led to street celebrations among residents in Tigray region according to local sources.