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Powerful Ethiopian government delegation visits Tigray first time since war broke out

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An Ethiopian government delegation on Monday morning, visited Mekele,
the capital of Tigray, for the first time since war broke out between government forces and rebels in the region over two years ago.

The official visit by senior federal officials as announced by the government, was led by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tagesse Chafo, who said the visit was necessary so as to oversee the implementation of the main points of a peace agreement signed on November 2 with the Tigrayan rebel authorities.

“This gesture is a proof that the peace agreement is on the right track and progressing,” the government communication service said in a statement on Facebook.

It added that the delegation composed of 20 top government officials including the National Security Advisor, Redwan Hussein, the Ministers of Justice, Gedion Timotheos, Transport and Communications, Dagmawit Moges and Industry Melaku Alebel, as well as the CEOs of Ethiopian Airlines and Ethio Telecom, Mesfin Tassew and Frehiwot Tamiru.

The Ethiopian government and the Tigrayan rebel authorities had signed an agreement in Pretoria after days of negotiations, to end a war that has ravaged for two years, killing tens of thousands, displacing millions and plunging the region into a deep humanitarian crisis.

The agreement which was brokered by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, provided for the disarmament of rebel forces, the re-establishment of federal authority in Tigray and the reopening of access to the region.

Since the agreement was reached, there has been a marked improvement as the fighting has stopped, while food and medical aid is gradually arriving the troubled regionn.

The rebels also announced that they have “disengaged” 65% of their fighters from the front lines, while Mekele has been reconnected to the national electricity grid and the main bank announced the resumption of its financial operations in certain towns.

Metro

Islamist jihadists kill nine in attack on Niger refugee camp

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Nine people have been confirmed killed by Islamist jihadists who attacked a refugee camp in western Niger Republic on Saturday night, local officials said.

The camp, according to the officials, housed refugees from neighbouring Mali who were displaced by the turmoil in the country.

“The toll from the attack is nine dead, one wounded and six missing,” an elected county official said.

“The attack was carried out by heavily armed terrorists who arrived on motorcycles and opened fire on the refugees before fleeing back to Mali,” he said.

A security personnel who also confirmed the attack, said it happened in the Tahoua region which lies in a zone bordering Mali and Burkina Faso, two countries that have been heavily hit by jihadist insurgency and has come under repeated attack since 2017 by armed groups linked to Al-Qaeda and Islamic State.

Jihadists attacks in the region since 2021 have led to the killing of hundreds of civilians and soldiers alike.

According to the United Nations, there are over 61,000 Malian refugees sheltering in Tahoua and nearby Tillaberi.

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Metro

Three killed in attacks on ancient Ethiopian Orthodox Church

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An attack on an Ancient Ethiopian Orthodox Church on Saturday has claimed the lives of three people, while an unspecified number were reported injured, according to a a religious media outlet.

The violence which erupted in southern Ethiopia, came on the backdrop of tensions in the Orthodox Tewahedo Church after some rebel bishops broke away from the body of the church and created their own synod in Oromia, the country’s most populous region.

The breakaway bishops have accused the church of discrimination and linguistic and cultural hegemony, saying congregations in Oromia are not served in their native language, claims rejected by the patriarchate.

Church-affiliated Tewahedo Media Center (TMC), in a report on Sunday, said two Orthodox Christian youths were killed, and another four people injured, when Oromia special forces attacked the church in Shashamene, which lies about 250 kilometers (150 miles) south of Addis Ababa.

The outfit later said there had been sniper fire on the church from nearby high-rise buildings that had killed a woman and injured others.

A statement issued by the Archbishop of Addis Ababa Diocese of the church. Abune Henok, described the incidents in the Oromia city of Shashamene as “shameful and heart-wrenching,” and urged the clergy and the faithful to wear black in protest, while calling for peaceful demonstrations at churches at home and abroad on February 12.

The World Council of Churches also issued a statement on Friday voicing its “deep concern” about the developments in the Ethiopian institution.

“We call upon all political leaders in Ethiopia to support the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in its efforts to achieve unity and peace among its members,” WCC general secretary, Jerry Pillay said in the statement.

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