Street celebrations as rebels seize capital

 Street celebrations as rebels seize capital

Rebel forces in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region have retaken its capital, Mekelle, sparking street celebrations and forcing officials to flee.

Residents reported scenes of joy, with fireworks and thousands waving flags.

The government, which took Mekelle in November after Tigrayan rebels rejected political reforms and captured army bases, has now called a “humanitarian ceasefire” in the region.

The fighting has left thousands dead and has pushed 350,000 towards famine.

More than two million people have been displaced.

There had been recent reports of renewed fighting between fighters of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and government forces outside Mekelle.

But a rapid offensive on Monday led to the unexpected recapture of the city by the rebels, in what may be a possible turning point in the bitter conflict.

A statement released by what was termed the Government of the National State of Tigray praised a “stunning victory”, saying Mekelle was “now under the complete control of the Tigray Defence Forces”.

It calls on the people and rebel forces “to stay vigilant, relentless and on constant alert until Tigray is fully free of all invading forces”.

Rebel spokesperson Getachew Reda suggested there was little appetite for a truce, telling CNN: “Our objectives are degrading the enemy’s fighting capabilities… We will not stop until Tigray has been cleared of any and all enemy forces. We will do whatever it takes.”

He said on Tuesday that TPLF fighters were pursuing government forces to the south and east of Mekelle.

BBC news