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Ethiopia: PM Abiy Authorizes ‘Final Offensive’ on Mekelle, City with 500,000 Residents

The world remains silent as Ethiopia descends into chaos, today Ethiopia’s prime minister has instructed the army to move in on the capital of the northern Tigray region after his 72-hour ultimatum for rebel leaders to lay down their arms expired.

Abiy Ahmed said his government will attack the regional capital, Mekelle which hosts about 500,000 people in a “final phase” of a law enforcement offensive, adding that the period for forces of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) to surrender peacefully was over.

“The 72-hour period granted to the criminal TPLF clique to surrender peacefully is now over and our law enforcement campaign has reached its final stage,” he tweeted on Thursday.

The statement by the prime minister’s office means tanks and other weaponry can now close in on the city of some half a million people and are authorized to attack.

The 44-year-old PM has warned Mekelle residents to “stay indoors” as the attack is orchestrated.

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed/ Courtesy

“All efforts will be made to ensure that the city of Mekelle, which was built through the hard work of our people, will not be severely damaged,” he said, including heritage sites, places of worship, public facilities, and dwellings.

At the moment phone and internet communication has been taken down in Tigray, the mountainous northern zone, cutting it off from the world.

The Conflict

There has been a long-running power struggle between Addis Ababa and Tigray’s leaders, recently the conflict escalated with the TPLF firing rockets into both the neighbouring Amhara region and across the border to Eritrea.

Thousands of people were left dead and more injured in the fighting and airstrikes that erupted on the 4th of November with about 40,000 refugees reportedly fleeing into neighbouring Sudan.

The conflict in Ethiopia has so far left more than one million displaced and food for nearly 100,000 refugees is almost finished according to the United Nations.

Mr Abiy’s administration has, however, laid the blame of injured civilians on the TPLF leaders it is targeting in a bid to restore law and order after they rose up against federal troops.

The United States asked the Ethiopian government to stop the crackdown on the Tigray region, with some rights groups warning of possible war crimes in the area.


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