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Ethiopia’s former FM among three Tigray leaders killed in crackdown on region
Former foreign minister of Ethiopia Seyoum Mesfin was among the three leaders killed by government forces in the ongoing crackdown on the northern region of Tigray, which the authorities in Addis Ababa accused of insurrection.
Seyoum, Abay Tsehaye, Asmelash Woldeselassie and Colonel Kiros Hagos were killed “in fire exchanges undertaken with the criminal clique’s personal security” after refusing to surrender to the Ethiopian military, the government’s crisis center tweeted on Wednesday.
Refusing to surrender to ENDF, Seyoum Mesfin, Abay Tsehaye, Asmelash Woldeselassie & Col Kiros Hagos have been killed in fire exchanges undertaken with the criminal cliques personal security. Five key TPLF affiliated former army commanders have been apprehended.— Ethiopia State of Emergency Fact Check (@SOEFactCheck) January 13, 2021
Five “key” officers of the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) were captured in the same operation, the government said.
Over the weekend, the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said it had killed 15 members of the TPLF and captured eight more, while one of the party’s founders, Sebhat Nega, was reportedly captured last week.
Seyoum was the first foreign minister of federal Ethiopia, following the 1991 overthrow of Mengistu Haile Mariam’s military dictatorship. He left the post in 2010 to serve as Ethiopia’s ambassador to China.
The TPLF had declared Abiy’s government illegitimate after he postponed the elections in June 2020, citing coronavirus concerns.
After months of tensions, Abiy launched the military operation to “liberate” Tigray in early November 2020, declaring a six-month state of emergency that gave him extensive powers to crack down on “illegal activities that threaten the constitutional order.” He accused the regional government of attacking an army base, which the TPLF denied.