Is Ethiopia's war really over?

A triumphant Abiy Ahmed praised his troops in Ethiopia's parliament on Monday (November 30) for their victory in the country's northern Tigray region, even as the forces he claims to have defeated said they were still fighting.

His soldiers captured Tigray's capital Mekelle at the weekend, prompting a declaration that a military operation in the region was completed.

"The defense forces never killed a single person in a single town. No soldier from any country could display a better competence. We have disciplined heroic soldiers."

Abiy said they had carried out a "special surgery" in Mekelle and not destroyed the city, nor killed a single civilian in the region.

But in a conflict where information has been difficult to verify, the rebellious Tigrayan People's Liberation Front has a different version of events.

It says Mekelle suffered heavy bombardment.

It also says the war is far from over - and claims to have shot down a plane and retaken a town.

In a text message, TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael said he was close to Mekelle, fighting the, quote, "invaders".

Abiy's spokeswoman dismissed suggestions that fighting is still ongoing, saying the "many delusions of a disintegrating criminal clique" were not their focus.

However Debretsion's defiance raises the specter of a drawn out insurgency against a battle-hardened TPLF that, from the days when it toppled Ethiopia's Marxist dictatorship nearly three decades ago, has known how to exploit its mountains and borders with Eritrea and Sudan.

The violence, in which diplomats believe thousands have died, has also stirred ethnic rivalries.

When he took office in 2018, Abiy pledged to unite Ethiopia's 115 million people, but ethnic clashes had killed hundreds and uprooted hundreds of thousands from their homes even before the latest bloodshed.

Video Transcript

Static triumphant

- Abiy Ahmed praised his troops in Ethiopia's parliament on Monday for their victory in the country's northern Tigray region even as the forces he claims to have defeated said they were still fighting. His soldiers captured Tigray's capital Mekelle at the weekend, prompting a declaration that a military operation in the region was completed.

ABIY AHMED: [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

INTERPRETER: The defense forces never killed a single person in a single town. No soldier from any country could display a better competence. We have disciplined, heroic soldiers.

- Abiy said they'd carried out a "special surgery" in Mekelle and not destroyed the city nor killed a single civilian in the region. But in a conflict where information has been difficult to verify, the rebellious Tigrayan People's Liberation Front has a different version of events. It says Mekelle suffered heavy bombardment. It also says the war is far from over and claims to have shot down a plane and retaken a town. In a text message, TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael said he was close to Mekelle fighting the, quote, "invaders."

Abiy's spokeswoman has dismissed suggestions that fighting is still ongoing, saying the "many delusions of a disintegrating criminal clique were not their focus."

However, Debretsion's defiance raises the specter of a drawn-out insurgency against a battle-hardened TPLF, that from the days when it toppled Ethiopia's Marxist dictatorship nearly three decades ago, has known how to exploit its mountains and borders with Eritrea and Sudan.

The violence in which diplomats believe thousands have died has also stirred ethnic rivalries. When he took office in 2018, Abiy pledged to unite Ethiopia's 115 million people, but ethnic clashes had killed hundreds and uprooted hundreds of thousands from their homes even before the latest bloodshed.