By Staff Reporter
November 16, 2020 (Ezega.com) -- Retreating troops of the Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) took more than 10,000 young people as hostages from Raya and Alamata towns, Ethiopia’s army officer has disclosed.
Human Resource and Media Section Coordinator with the National Defence Force Colonel Dejene Fikadu told ETV news that TPLF’s troops had been escorting the hostages to Mekele a few days before the Ethiopian army took control of the towns.
“Before the young people were taken hostages, they had been kept in different detention centers without prosecution. They allegedly protested against identity crisis the people of Raya and Alamata had faced with,” he said
Residents who expressed delight over the defeat of TPLF troops in freed areas of Raya and Alamata towns also confirmed TPLF troops took as many as 10,000 people to Mekele. Ezegs has independently verified this claim.
The National Defense Force along with Amhara region special forces, and local militia claimed they fought together to dislodge TPLF forces from Waja, Alamata and Raya towns.
“The rebel TPLF group retreated without resisting when the defense force, Amhara special force, and local militia arrived in the area,” Dejene said.
The defense force is advancing north to Mekelle from where the TPLF leaders are believed to be leading the war which they call “resistance to fascists’ forces.”
Ethiopian Defense Forces on Sunday said they took control of Alamata, Waja, and Timuga towns. Alamata town is about 177 kilometers south of Mekelle.
The military officer accused TPLF of deploying young soldiers as young as 14 years in the different battlefields. All sides of this conflict have claimed the same against one another in the last two weeks or so.
Formerly under the province of Wollo, Alamata and Raya were incorporated into the Tigray region of Ethiopia when the TPLF government redrew the Ethiopian administrative regions in the years following the collapse of Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam’s government in 1991.
Residents of Alamata and Raya Kobo have been resisting imposition of Tigray identity on residents since these areas came under the administration of the Tigray region of Ethiopia after TPLF’s take over of government power in Addis Ababa under the leadership of the late Meles Zenawi.
The war in northern Ethiopia started on November 4 after TPLF forces launched what they called “blistering attack” on military bases of the northern command post as the army was sleeping. Hundreds of Ethiopian soldiers are believed to have been killed and thousands were taken as “captives.” The TPLF claimed both central governments in Ethiopia and Eritrea were plotting to attack Tigray, and the reason for its preemptive strikes.
Meanwhile, the Agency for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA) has expressed its concern over the mistreatment of Eritrean refugees in Tigray Regional State amid conflict between federal and TPLF troops.
Public Relation and Modernization Director at the Agency, Beakal Nigussie said despite the communication gap that exists between the federal government and the Tigray Regional State, Eritrean refugees who have been living in Tigray cities along with the communities are now being forcefully taken to camps by the TPLF leadership.
Using refugees for instigating havoc and as a cover up for political means is against the relevant international laws and totally unacceptable in any forms, he claimed.
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