Prime Minister Ethiopia sets ultimatum, further escalation in Tigray threatens

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed issued an ultimatum on Sunday: he will give the troops in the northern Tigray region 72 hours to surrender. More units of the government army are currently en route for an offensive to Tigray’s capital, Mek’ele. “You have come to a point where you cannot turn back. Take this last chance and surrender,” said Ahmed.

Leger shows ‘no mercy’

Government forces reported taking several important villages in Tigray this week. However, this information is difficult to verify due to the fact that telephone and internet connections have been down since the beginning of the conflict in November.

Ethiopia’s government army has fought in the northern region of Tigray in recent weeks against the forces of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which controls the region. Relations between the national government and the party had long been tense, but the conflict escalated when Ahmed accused the TPLF of attacking an army base.

Hundreds of people have reportedly been killed in the fighting in the last two weeks. Tens of thousands of others have fled to neighboring Sudan. UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, warns that a humanitarian crisis is unfolding in the country.

A refugee from the Ethiopian region of Tigray registers at the border with neighboring Sudan. (Photo: ANP)

Earlier this week, Ahmed already announced an offensive in Tigray. The Nobel Peace Prize winner warned the more than 500,000 residents of Mek’ele that his army will encircle and attack the city. The military will “show no mercy,” a government spokesman said BBC News.

TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael then announced that his troops have succeeded in halting the advance of the government army. The TPLF says it is not impressed by the threats from the government in Addis Ababa.

Tigray is a difficult region due to the many mountains. In addition, the TPLF has an estimated 250,000 men at its disposal. Many of them are well-trained paramilitaries.

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