Throughout its conflict with the Tigray region over the last month, the Ethiopian government has maintained the situation is an internal matter, often rebuffing third party help. Last week, though, the country did sign a deal with the United Nations, allowing access to ensure humanitarian aid reaches Tigray. But on Tuesday, an Ethiopian official said security forces shot at U.N. staffers who, he claimed, "indulged themselves in a kind of adventurous expedition." It does not appear any of the staffers were physically harmed, and they were reportedly released after being detained.
The official, Redwan Hussein, said the staffers broke two check points and entered areas that are off-limits under the agreement, even as the U.N. continues to seek unfettered and neutral access in the region. Going off script, he suggested, therefore chipped away at Ethiopian sovereignty. "No entity, multilateral or unilateral, is supposed to plant the government," Redwan said Tuesday. "We, the government, would call the shot."
A spokesman for the U.N., Stephane Dujarric, said the report about the shooting was alarming.
U.N. security teams evaluating Tigray also said they've observed troops wearing Eritrean uniforms on the ground, indicating the conflict may have become regional, Bloomberg reports. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed denied that, claiming the Tigray People's Liberation Front — rivals with both Eritrea and Abiy's government — put together uniforms resembling those of Eritrea's army to frame the neighboring country. Verifying either account has been difficult, as has been the case throughout the conflict. Read more at The Associated Press and Bloomberg.Tim O'Donnell
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said Friday that the "federal government is now fully in control" of the Tigray region's capital, Mekelle, after a successful military offensive, Reuters reports. It's a crucial development in the weeks-old intra-country conflict.
Abiy said police are searching for leaders of the Tigray People's Liberation Front, who have been fighting the government's forces throughout November, and aim to "bring them to the court of law." He added that military operations have ended and the government's focus is now "rebuilding the region and providing humanitarian assistance." There has been no comment from the TPLF.
Earlier in the day, a spokeswoman for Abiy said the military would not target civilian areas, while Debretsion Gebremichael, leader of the TPLF, told Reuters that Mekelle was under "heavy bombardment."