Ethiopian military says it killed 15 members of rebellious Tigray forces, captured 8 others

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Ethiopia's military said on Sunday it had killed 15 members of the Tigray region's former ruling party and captured eight others, according to state-run TV.

Citing a brigadier-general from Ethiopia's National Defence Force, the state-run Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation said that those captured included the region's former president Abay Weldu, who was also a former chairman of the region's ruling party. Those killed included the region's former deputy police commissioner, it said.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's government declared victory in its conflict with the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), a political party that previously governed the province, on Nov. 28 after nearly a month of fighting.

Fugitive leaders of the TPLF had vowed to continue to fight from the mountains, but Reuters has been unable to contact them for weeks.

The latest announcement about those killed and captured comes after the military said on Friday that it had captured Sebhat Nega, a founding member of the TPLF. On Saturday, he was transported to the capital Addis Ababa, state TV reported.

The captured former TPLF president, Abay, was president of the region from 2010 to 2018, replaced by the group's current leader, Debretsion Gebremichael. Abay was chairman of the party from 2012 to 2017, and was also succeeded by Debretsion in that position.

The region's former vice president, Abraham Tekeste, was also captured, state TV reported. Tekeste had also been finance minister in the federal government from 2016 to 2018.

The whereabouts of Debretsion, other members of the party's central committee and many high-ranking former military officers remains unknown.

Air strikes and battles since early November in Tigray are believed to have killed thousands of people. Fighting is continuing in some parts and more than 2 million people need aid, the United Nations said this week.

(Reporting by Nairobi newsroom; Writing by Maggie Fick; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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