Ethiopia says hunt for Tigray leaders begins

Ethiopia's government launched a manhunt on Sunday (November 29) for leaders of a rebellious faction in Tigray after announcing that federal forces had taken control of the northern region's capital, and that the conflict was over.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said an offensive on Mekelle had been successful within a few hours of being launched and that federal police were now pursuing "criminals" from the powerful Tigrayan People's Liberation Front party.

But TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael says his troops will fight on because this was an issue of, quote, "our right to self-determination".

Regional diplomats and experts have warned that a rapid military victory might not signal the end of the conflict and the TPLF has a long history of guerrilla resistance.

Thousands are estimated to have died since fighting erupted on November 4, and nearly 44,000 have fled to Sudan.

In a border camp on Saturday (November 28), the U.N.'s High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said that while refugees are uncomfortable with living in exile, their biggest fear is intercommunal violence when they return.

"This is why I think that going forward, it will be important for the government of Ethiopia to re-establish peace and to have a silence of the guns, but also to ensure there are no retaliation or reprisals between communities because this is what many have mentioned to me as a primary source of fear."

Six explosions were reported in Asmara, the capital of neighboring Eritrea, on Saturday night according to the U.S. State Department.

It was not clear if they were related to the Tigray conflict, but Tigrayan forces have previously fired rockets into Eritrea who they accuse of sending troops in support of the Ethiopian military.

The conflict has been a major test for Abiy, who took office two years ago and is trying to hold together a patchwork of ethnic groups that make up Ethiopia's 115 million people.

Video Transcript

[SPEAKING AMHARIC]

- Ethiopia's government launched a manhunt on Sunday for leaders of a rebellious faction in Tigray after announcing that federal forces had taken control of the northern region's capital, and that the conflict was over. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said an offensive on Mekelle had been successful within a few hours of being launched and that federal police were now pursuing criminals from the powerful Tigrayan People's Liberation Front.

But TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael says his troops will fight on because this was an issue of quote, "our right to self-determination."

[MARCHING AND WHISTLING]

Regional diplomats and experts have warned that a rapid military victory might not signal the end of the conflict and the TPLF has a long history of guerrilla resistance. Thousands are estimated to have died since fighting erupted on November 4, and nearly 44,000 have fled to Sudan.

In a border camp on Saturday the UN's High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, said that while refugees are uncomfortable with living in exile, their biggest fear is intercommunal violence when they return.

FILIPPO GRANDI: This is why I think that going forward, it will be important for the government of Ethiopia to re-establish peace, to have a silence of the guns. But also to ensure that there are no retaliation or reprisals between communities, because this is what many have mentioned to me as a primary source of fear.

- Six explosions were reported in Asmara, the capital of neighboring Eritrea, on Saturday night according to the US State Department. It was not immediately clear if they were related to the Tigray conflict, but Tigrayan forces have previously fired rockets into Eritrea, who they accuse of sending troops in support of the Ethiopian military.

ABIY AHMED: Upholding the rule of law.

- The conflict has been a major test for Abiy, who took office two years ago and is trying to hold together a patchwork of ethnic groups that make up Ethiopia's 115 million people.

ABIY AHMED: Obstruction of justice.