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Ethiopia Mekele falls but Tigray’s Gebremichael is defiant

THE fugitive leader of Ethiopia’s Tigray region called on Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed yesterday to “stop the madness” and withdraw troops from the region as he asserted that fighting continues “on every front” two days after Mr Abiy declared victory.

Debretsion Gebremichael told the Associated Press agency that he remains near the Tigrayan capital Mekele, which the Ethiopian army said on Saturday that it now controlled.

Far from accepting Mr Abiy’s declaration of victory, the Tigray leader asserted that “we are sure we’ll win.”

He also accused the Ethiopian forces of carrying out a “genocidal campaign” against the people of Tigray. With the Tigray region still cut off a month after the fighting began, no-one knows how many people have been killed, and it is difficult to verify the warring sides’ claims.

Each government regards the other as illegal after Abiy sidelined the once-dominant Tigray People’s Liberation Front after taking office in early 2018.

Fears of a widespread humanitarian disaster are growing. The UN has been unable to access the region with aid and rights groups are concerned about atrocities that might emerge once links are restored.

Nearly a million people have been displaced, including about 44,000 who fled to Sudan, and camps in Tigray that are home to 96,000 Eritrean refugees have been in the line of fire.

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