The end of military operations in Ethiopia’s northern region of Tigray is “coming within reach”, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Tuesday, as the military claimed to have captured an airport.
The prime minister sent troops and air force jets into Tigray last week in a campaign against the regional ruling party, which has been at odds with Abiy’s government for months.
Abiy, last year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner, said the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) attacked two federal military bases, something the regional party has denied.
Tigray has been under a communications blackout ever since, making it difficult to weigh competing claims about casualties and who holds what territory.
Abiy said operations against the TPLF were “proceeding as planned”.
“Operations will cease as soon as the criminal junta is disarmed, legitimate administration in the region restored, and fugitives apprehended & brought to justice — all of them rapidly coming within reach,” he posted on Twitter.
State media reported earlier on Tuesday that the Ethiopian military had “completely captured” the airport in the northwest town of Humera, close to the border with Sudan and Eritrea.
But the TPLF-controlled Tigray Mass Media Agency said Humera’s population was “undertaking its normal peaceful activity” and that “information being disseminated by fascist Abiy Ahmed is far from the truth”.
Two humanitarian sources told AFP on Monday that more than 20 Ethiopians — civilians and soldiers — had crossed into eastern Sudan.
Much of the fighting has reportedly been concentrated in western Tigray, near the border of Sudan and Eritrea.
The western town of Dansha was under federal control when AFP journalists travelled there on Monday, but it has been impossible to verify the military’s claim that it controls other towns in the area.
The Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority on Tuesday informed journalists accredited in Ethiopia that they would need to obtain a “supporting letter” before travelling to Tigray as well as “bordering conflict zones and different parts of the country”.
It said the measure was intended “for the safety of journalists and to get cooperation from local administrations and military officials on the ground.”
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