ADDIS ABABA/NAIROBI: Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed gave Tigrayan regional forces 72 hours to give up earlier than the army begins an offensive on the regional capital of Mekelle.
“We urge you to give up peacefully inside 72 hours, recognising that you’re on the level of no return,” Abiy stated in a message posted on Twitter on Sunday night.
Tigrayan forces couldn’t instantly be reached for remark.
A army spokesman stated earlier that advancing Ethiopian troops plan to encompass Mekelle with tanks and should shell the town to drive give up.
The Tigray Folks’s Liberation Entrance (TPLF), which is refusing to give up its rule of the northern area, stated its forces had been digging trenches and standing agency.
Reuters couldn’t affirm the most recent statements on the conflict. Claims by all sides are onerous to confirm as a result of telephone and web communication has been down.
Abiy’s federal troops have taken a string of cities throughout aerial bombardments and floor preventing, and are actually aiming for Mekelle, a highland metropolis of about 500,000 individuals the place the rebels are primarily based.
The battle erupted on Nov. Four and has killed tons of, probably hundreds, and has despatched greater than 30,000 refugees into neighbouring Sudan. Rockets have been fired by rebels into neighbouring Amhara area and throughout the border into the nation of Eritrea.
International nations have urged talks, however Abiy has pressed on with the offensive.
In his assertion on Sunday night, Abiy stated that in what he phrases a regulation enforcement operation “all the required precautionary measures have been taken to make sure that civilians are usually not harmed”.
Referring to the TPLF he stated that “all that the clique is left with is the fort that they’ve arrange in Mekelle and empty satisfaction”.
He stated the individuals of Tigray had had sufficient of what he stated was TPLF violence towards them, and appealed to the individuals of Mekelle to face with the federal troops in “bringing this treasonous group” to justice.
Abiy accuses the Tigrayan leaders of revolting towards central authority and beginning the battle by attacking federal troops within the city of Dansha on Nov. 4.
The rebels say his authorities has marginalised Tigrayans since taking workplace two years in the past, eradicating them from senior roles in authorities and the army and detaining many on rights abuse and corruption fees.
Earlier on Sunday, army spokesman Colonel Dejene Tsegaye instructed state-run Ethiopia Broadcasting Company that “the subsequent phases are the decisive a part of the operation, which is to encircle Mekelle utilizing tanks”.
“We wish to ship a message to the general public in Mekelle to avoid wasting yourselves from any artillery assaults and free yourselves from the junta … After that, there will probably be no mercy.”
TPLF chief Debretsion Gebremichael instructed Reuters by textual content message that his forces had been resisting a push from the south whereas additionally preventing close to the northern city of Adigrat after it fell to federal troops.
“Encircling Mekelle is their plan however but they couldn’t,” he stated. “On south entrance, they couldn’t transfer an inch for a couple of week. They (are) sending waves after waves however to no avail.”
Abiy drew plaudits for opening up Ethiopia’s closed economic system and repressive political system after taking workplace in 2018. Nevertheless, rights teams say his authorities has carried out mass arrests after outbreaks of violence and detained journalists this yr.
Abiy received a Nobel Peace Prize final yr for ending a two-decade standoff with Eritrea. The awarding committee in Oslo final week made a uncommon foray into the actions of laureates by urging peace in Tigray.
Redwan Hussein, spokesman for the federal government’s taskforce on Tigray, stated there was nonetheless time for TPLF leaders to give up. “The federal government will take most restraint to not trigger main dangers for civilians,” he added.
Whereas many Tigrayan particular forces and militiamen had surrendered or scattered round Adigrat, resistance was stronger on the southern entrance, Redwan stated, the place rebels have dug up roads, destroyed bridges and booby-trapped roads.
The taskforce added that the military had additionally taken the small city of Idaga Hamus on the street from Adigrat to Mekelle.
(Writing by Katharine Houreld and Andrew Cawthorne; Enhancing by Frances Kerry)
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