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This week in Eritrea’s History

• On Feb 13, 1945, Emperor Haile Selassie and the US President Roosevelt met aboard a US warship and discussed Ethiopia’s need for a port. The Emperor said Djibouti would be the best port for short term but a long- term policy required a port in Eritrea.

• EPLF held its 3rdCongress from 10 to 16 Feb 1994 in Nakfa. After liberating Eritrea from Ethiopian colonization and occupation, EPLF transformed in to a new post-war political movement, the People’s Front for Democracy, PFDJ and adopted a National Charter.

• On Feb. 11, 1967, Ethiopian Army massacred, burnt and bayoneted the inhabitants of Adi Ibrahim and surrounding villages. On Feb 12, 1967, 21 detainees, most of them teachers and government employees were summarily executed in Tessenei prison. Between February and April 1967 Ethiopian Army burned 62 villages, including Mogoraib, Zamla, Ad Ibrahim, Gerset Gurgur, Adi Bara, Asir, Fori and Ad Habab. The Army used artillery and aerial bombardment (using incendiaries) 402 civilians were killed and about 60,000 cattle and camels slaughtered.

• On Feb. 10, 1990 Massawa was liberated and returned to its owners after 433 years of successive colonization and occupation by Turkey (1557-1865), Egyptians (1865-1885), Italians (1885-1941), British Military Adminstration (1941-1952) and Ethiopia (1952- 1990). EPLF conducted 50 military operations between 1988, the annihilation of Nadew command and 1990, Operation Fenkil to pave the way for the total liberation of Massawa.

• On Feb 12, 1990, EPLF launched an all-out assault on the naval base. After fierce and bitter heroic fight, the infantry unit of EPLF breached the perimeter and overwhelmed Ethiopian Army with the surrender of Brigadier General Tilahun Kifle and Brigadier General Ali Haj Abdullahi among others.

• As Operation Fenkil heralded the demise of Ethiopian Navy, 49 years before the Operation of Fenkil, on 13 Feb 1941, British carrier HMS Formidable launched 14 Albacore aircraft against Italian Forces in Massawa sinking Italian ship Moncalieri and damaging others.

• On Feb. 10, dawn EPLF launched an attack on the plain surrounding Massawa triggering one of the largest tank battles in the world. Perhaps 90 tanks, T-54 & T-55, of Ethiopian army and about 50 of the EPLF’s were involved. In the attack on the naval base, EPLF land forces and speedboats fired salvos of artillery and mortar shells, about 200 shells a minute. EPLF sent in to the base two captured Ethiopian tanks shooting to the rear as a disguise, causing damages and confusion. Operation Fenkil took 59 hours to complete. EPLF used a strong combination of ground troops, naval troops, and mechanized units. Ethiopian Navy built by the US, UK & the ex USSR and other countries since 1955 was destroyed by EPLF naval force.


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