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Fenkil- a gateway to independence

Derg troops surrendering to EPLF fighters in Massawa

Fenkil- a gateway to independence

By Muza H. 

By nature, Colonizers better identified for their oppression. And colonized people struggled to tear and get out of the net of oppression by nature. Those two one against other action ended with the victory of either a colonizer or colonized. This unwillingness for repression by colonized and unwillingness for coercion by colonizers is in faded stamp in African history. As Eritrea is part of African continent, it shared this fate of history.But Eritrean history is very different in this context. Commitment and heroism of the fighters, principle of the front, standing of the civilians on the side of the front, offering of help from Eritreans who live abroad, always be in hurry behavior of fighters and civilians for front’s mission, wise and long vision sighted leadership; all the credentials are in Eritrea’s past waving struggle for self-governance.

Eritrean struggle is an umbrella of different war strategies. One of those is Fenkil operation. The operation is a gateway to Eritrean independence. If Fenkil operation was unsuccessful, independence would be in question mark. It is one of the robust African military successes and witnesses EPLF’s power. From 1989 EPLF collected adequate snooping information about the enemy who were in and around the port of Massawa. After one year of spy out inside an enemy, the EPLF prepared a well-studied blueprint of the offensive of Massawa. The plan was to attack in four directions.

The attack started on 8th February 1990, at 1 A.M.,by attacking the camp of Adi Ole. As the camp was the main garrison, the attack on it was a decisive for all directions of the attack. The EPLF captured Adi Ole. The capture of it made the enemy to loss control, there for it escaped. After this the EPLF made its progress towards Gahtelay. Beside this an enemy struggled in its full effort to defend Gahtelay, so to uncut the route of Asmara-Massawa. This defense could not halt EPLf, from its aim. By 3 P.M. they captured it.The second day of the attack was on 9th February. As the enemy was shocked by cutting of the road of Dogalli, it could not defend around the place called dgdgta. In the morning the EPLF controlled dgdgta. In this day Massawa entered under the encirclement of EPLF from a near distance. During that night the enemy buried anti-human and anti-tank explosives, as a result of its defeat. On 10th February third day,EPLF controlled Forto hill at 7 A.M. Even though the enemy made many air bombardments, it could not stop EPLF from controlling Grar and Dengolo Tahtay. On fourth day of 11 February, early in the morning the EPLF mounted an offensive to control Naval Base. Ships of Air Force escaped to Dahlak Island, where the islands were the only lingering option of the derg. Including generals more than 100 Ethiopian soldiers were surrendered. During this day EPLF tried to control the Sgalet ketan with its 900 Km long. From 12 to 15 February there was strong and bloody war. The EPLF after its enough military studyon those days opened an offensive on 15th evening. After the whole 15th night and 16th morning of stout war, EPLF could control Massawa and Twalet. On very few days there were around 18,000 humanitarian loses on the side of the enemy. Except few which were damaged, all the other armaments that were stretched on the plateau of Semhar were surrendered. In this operation the EPLF took 130 different kinds of tanks, 8 BM, 21 sling rockets and much other ammunition under its control. Finally the capturing of Massawa became the end of Fenkil operation.

At that time Massawa was not only geographically strategic place, but it also became militarily strategic place. It’s capturing helped EPLF with great hope and easier offensive of Asmara specifically, wining of the struggle with independence generally.

It lit a candle for independence in which the martyrs of Fenkil were its wax. Not only participated in that battle, to listen about and imagining of it is very tough and harsh. Beginning of that battle was a great cost, heroism and commitment were greater costs and the fallen martyrs were the greatest costs of Fenkil.

Every year Fenkil remembered with big celebration. Glory to our patriot martyrs: this annual celebration would have been a celebration of massacres. Being in Fenkil is not only about visiting, swimming, seeing exhibitions, taking photos and walking on the side of the port. Rather it is about freedom as equal as vivid memories of martyrs and tough times.
  • Remember when you are walking, our fighters were walking on scorch ground. Look down at the ground; there are unseen footprints of fallen martyrs.
  • Remember when you are swimming, drowned martyrs found inside the sea. The mixture of their blood and sea’s water makes you enjoying the freedom your swimming.
  • Remember when you lied down in your back at Gergsum beach, hero martyrs were lied down with their last heart beat there.
  • Remember when you participate in the celebration, before Fenkil Massawa’s celebration was mourned of massacres.
  • Remember when you are looking at the hospitality of the inhabitants of Massawa, their hospitality were terrifying.
  • Remember when you see the memorial tanks built in Sgalet ketan, just like those tanks killed the residents and fighters and destroyed the port’s infrastructure.
  • Remember when you are buying a salt (as many of our citizens do when they go to Massawa), how much the fighters and martyrs endured the harsh salty place and salty sea.
  • Remember when you are visiting the museum, bones of Fenkil martyrs are parcel of the archives.
  • Remember when you are eating and drinking the celebratory meals and drinks, the fighters defended with hunger and martyrs died while they are starved.


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Fenkil- a gateway to independence Reviewed by Admin on 12:48 AM Rating: 5

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