BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:30 P.M.) The commander of the rebel forces in the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia said that his forces had shot down a federal army plane and captured its pilot, the Reuters News Agency reported this evening.
Debarsion Gabramkeel, leader of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in Ethiopia, said in a text message to Reuters that his forces shot down an Ethiopian military plane on Sunday and captured its pilot, a day after the government announced the end of its military operation in the region.
He indicated in his text that the pilot “was on a bombing mission” before he was shot down over the Tigray region.
So far, there has been no comment from the Ethiopian army or the government, which said earlier that it was only bombing military targets.
It is currently difficult to verify the allegations of any of the parties to the conflict in Tigray, in light of the absence of telephone and Internet connections in the region and the tightening of access to it since Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced the start of military operations on the 4th of November against the Tigrayan forces.
Earlier on Sunday, Ethiopia announced full control of the city of Mekele, the regional capital of the Tigray Region.
The Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) quoted the Chief of Staff of the National Defense Force, General Berhanu Gula, as saying that the defense forces had completely taken control of the city of Mekele.
He explained that “the National Defense Forces released more than 7,000 members of the Northern Command who were being held hostage by the extremist group of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front,” stressing that “the northern command center in Mekele was also controlled.”
“Victory is a great blessing for the people of Tigray,” he said, stressing that the people of Tigray “will be freed from the tyranny of the extremist group and get rid of its oppressive structures.”
“The government will continue law enforcement operations to bring members of the TPLF to justice,” he added.