Ethiopian TV said that the army forces managed to take control of the cities of Sheri, Exum and Adwa in the Tigray region, while Tigray militants fired missiles at an airport in a neighboring province.
The Al-Jazeera correspondent reported that the Tigray People’s Liberation Front has so far lost about 70% of the region’s area, leaving only one of the major cities in the region, Mekele.
The Emergency Committee confirmed that the army also controlled the vicinity of the city of Adigrat.
“Many SCAF fighters have surrendered,” a government statement said, referring to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.
It was not possible to obtain comment from the Tigrayans, but a spokesman said in a televised speech that their fighters had inflicted “more casualties” in Raya, south of Mekele.
A Tigrayan TV station reported that the region’s fighters “exterminated the enemy forces” from Mihony in the south and Zalambisa in the northeast.
The authorities of the Amhara region in Ethiopia said that, on Friday, forces from the Tigray region fired missiles at the city of Bahr Dar, the capital of Amhara, which increased fears that the conflict may turn into a wider war.
On the diplomatic front, the Ethiopian Prime Minister’s Office denied the existence of mediation between the federal government and the Tigrayan Liberation Front, indicating that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed will receive the envoys of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Ramaphosa – who is the rotating president of the African Union – had revealed that he had appointed his predecessor and the former Presidents of Liberia and Mozambique as special envoys from the African Union to Ethiopia, to mediate between the parties to the conflict in the Tigray region.
It is reported that the Ethiopian Prime Minister sent an envoy to South Africa on an official working visit.
On the humanitarian level, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said that the conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia has left more than two million children in urgent need of assistance, and thousands more are at risk in refugee camps.
The organization’s executive director, Henrietta Fore, said that the suffering comes amid a lack of communication in the region and the imposition of restrictions on access.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said that the number of Ethiopian refugees fleeing the war in Tigray has risen to 33,000.
The Office of Refugee Affairs in Sudan also called on the international community to quickly intervene to help the Ethiopian refugees overcome their ordeal.
The two-week conflict in Tigray has killed hundreds and possibly thousands, prompted tens of thousands to flee to Sudan, and raised doubts about the ability of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed – Africa’s youngest leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner last year – to maintain the cohesion of the multi-ethnic nation before Elections scheduled for next year.
Ethiopia is a federal state consisting of 10 regions administered by separate ethnic groups, and it was effectively ruled for decades by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, which is based in the north, as the most powerful element in the multi-ethnic coalition, until Abiy Ahmed came to power two years ago.
Ahmed – who comes from Amhara and Oromo – says that he aims to share power in the country in a more equitable way, but the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tigrayans accuses him of seeking revenge against former officials of their ethnicity.
The conflict erupted two weeks ago after the government said that the Tigray People’s Liberation Front had attacked Federal Army forces in the region.