The Tigray Defense Forces (TDF) displayed, on Saturday, thousands of captured Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) soldiers during the recent clashes in Mek’ele, the provincial administrative capital of the northern Ethiopian region of Tigray.
The TDF then transferred the soldiers to various prisons in the region, which has witnessed widespread war crimes in the past eight months.
Photos taken by news agencies showed thousands of ENDF soldiers captured and paraded in Mek’elem before their transfer to prison.
The ENDF withdrew from the Tigray region on Monday after months of violence, rape, torture, and killings targeting civilians and the TDF.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed described the withdrawal as a strategic step due to “financial constraints” and international pressure to pave the way for humanitarian assistance.
The TDF, however, criticised Ahmed’s move and rejected calls for a ceasefire, arguing that “we have defeated them, and now we are following them to the bunkers”.
The entire Tigray area is now under the control of the TDF after the departure of the Eritrean National Defence Forces, Eritrean forces, and the Amhara regional forces.
The Ethiopian Government rejected the term of “defeat”, and described TDF as “a terrorist group spreading lies in the country”.
Ahmed has already said that his operations to restore order in the Horn of Africa country will continue in the coming weeks.
The Ethiopian Prime Minister sent his troops to Mek’ele eight months ago to wrest power from regional leaders. He declared the move necessary due to the Tigray region holding local elections without the permission of the federal government and trying to seize an Ethiopian military base.
According to Debretsion Gebremichael, leader of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), his fighters captured more than 6,000 Ethiopian soldiers.
His forces will soon release low-ranking soldiers, but they will keep the officers in custody.
Since Ethiopia declared a unilateral ceasefire on Monday and withdrew its troops from Mek’ele, Tigray has suffered from power, communications, and internet outages.
According to the United Nations (UN), the consequences will exacerbate the already deteriorating humanitarian situation.
International aid agencies warned of a looming humanitarian disaster, saying it was unclear whether the TDF’s victory would allow international assistance to begin reaching those most in need in the region.
At least 350,000 people in the conflict-ravaged region have entered a state of famine, the United Nations said. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has estimated that 900,000 people are facing famine conditions.
The UN Security Council discussed the humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia, on Friday, accusing the ENDF of cutting off major supply routes.
The UN has also asked the Ethiopian authorities to cooperate to promote peace and stability in the country.