Ethiopia’s army has entered the “final phase” of the offensive in the rebellious Tigray region. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed declared this on Thursday after an ultimatum for the fighters to surrender had passed.
The government army is fighting the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) troops in the northern region. That party controls the region.
The Ethiopian army began an operation on November 4 after the TPLF allegedly attacked two military bases. Hundreds were killed in the fighting. Tens of thousands of people have fled to neighboring Sudan.
“The 72-hour period in which the TPLF criminal clique could surrender is over,” said Prime Minister Ahmed. “Our law enforcement campaign has reached its final stage.” According to Ahmed, thousands of fighters from the region have surrendered.
In the “final phase” of the offensive, attacks are carried out in the regional capital of Mekelle, where some 500,000 people live. Abiy calls on residents to disarm and stay at home. They are also asked to stay away from military targets.
While the prime minister says civilians will be spared the conflict with the RPLF, human rights organizations are concerned about the consequences for the residents of the region. Thousands of people are said to have died since the start of the offensive.