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Ethiopia's Tigray crisis: Tigray force 'still fighting' despite army Mekelle push

 Mon, November 30, 2020, 4:59 PM GMT+1

View of Mekelle
Mekelle, the capital city of the Tigray region, is a city of about 500,000 people

The head of local forces in Ethiopia's northern region of Tigray says they are still fighting near the city of Mekelle, which was seized by government troops at the weekend.

Debretsion Gebremichael, who leads the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), also says his fighters have retaken another key city.

The government denies the claims and insists the TPLF has been crushed.

Hundreds of people have reportedly been killed in the month-long conflict.

Thousands have been displaced, while the UN and aid agencies have voiced concern about the humanitarian situation.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed told parliament on Monday that not a single civilian had been killed since the government launched its offensive in early November.

With all phone lines and the internet cut off, it is impossible to independently verify statements from either side.

What does the TPLF say?

In a text message to Reuters news agency on Sunday, Debretsion Gebremichael claimed that his forces had shot down an Ethiopian warplane and captured the pilot.

In another message on Monday, he said that the TPLF was "close to Mekelle, fighting".

TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael (file picture)
The whereabouts of Debretsion Gebremichael and other TPFL leaders are unknown

Mr Debretsion also said the TPLF had retaken the city of Aksum from the federal army.

On Monday, Fisseha Asgedom, a former Ethiopian ambassador to the UN with affiliations to the TPLF, told the BBC that reports by the Addis Ababa government of a sweeping advance were "a joke".

"The Addis Ababa government announced that they have captured Mekelle and six hours after they announced this they bombarded Mekelle... It's propaganda. Why can't they send the international community some videos?"

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