Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed vowed Friday to “bury the enemy” in his first message from the battlefront, state media said, after he announced plans to lead a counter-offensive against Tigrayan rebels.
As the rebels report major territorial gains, claiming this week to have seized a town just 220 kilometres (135 miles) from Addis Ababa, international alarm over the escalating conflict has deepened, with foreign countries urging their citizens to leave.
State media reported Wednesday that Abiy, a former radio operator in the military who rose to the rank of lieutenant-colonel, had arrived at the front line to lead a counter-offensive, handing over regular duties to his deputy.
In an interview shown on the state-affiliated Oromia Broadcasting Corporation channel, the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner said he was certain of achieving victory in the battle against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
“Until we bury the enemy… until Ethiopia’s independence is confirmed, we won’t reverse course. What we want is to see an Ethiopia that stands while we die,” he said.
He added that the military had secured control of the town of Kassagita in the Afar region northeast of Addis Ababa and planned to recapture the nearby towns of Chifra and Burka.