Very early Wednesday morning aircraft carrying Ethiopian commandos took off on a mission to eliminate the Tigrayan leadership.
Ethiopian sources suggest that the force was airlifted into Mekelle in two helicopters and an Antonov from Bahr Dar, to try and seize the TPLF leadership at a hotel.
Social media reports that the hotel in question was the Planet.
The commandos landed without a problem and drove into Mekelle, seizing control of the hotel.
But the intelligence they were operating from was faulty. The Tigrayan leaders they were seeking were not there. The commandos then withdrew.
It is not clear if the unit was involved in any fighting.
But after the failed raid Tigrean forces took over the Ethiopian National Defence Force camp (the Northern Command barracks for Mekelle) near the airport (when there was some fighting), as well as taking control of the airport itself.
It is not clear if the commando raid preceded Prime Minister Abiy’s claim of a TPLF attack on the Northern Command barracks. But there had already been some fighting in Western Tigray by then between Amhara Special Forces and Tigrean troops.
Ethiopians report Prime Minister Abiy as saying that aircraft had been sent to Tigray to “deliver new notes” – presumably cover for the unsuccessful raid.
The official Ethiopian position is that the TPLF leaders must surrender; no discussions possible.