Islam News – Press TV reported, Ethiopia’s military has threatened a full-scale attack on the rebel-held Mekele, the capital of the dissident Tigray region, warning civilians to flee and save their lives, as violence continues to rage in the East African country for the third week.
Threatening to siege the capital of the northern region, military spokesman, Dejene Tsegaye, said at a press conference on Sunday, “The next decisive battle is to surround Mekele with tanks.”
He further cautioned the city’s half a million inhabitants, saying, “Save yourself! A directive has been communicated for you to dissociate yourself from this junta, after that there will be no mercy.”
Tigray has been completely surrounded in bloody fighting since November 4, when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced the launch of military operations against the regional government there.
The announcement led to a dramatic escalation of a long-running feud between the federal government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the region’s ruling party, which dominated Ethiopian politics for almost three decades before Abiy assumed power in 2018 – Press TV reported.
Ahmed, the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize 2019, has accused the rebel forces loyal to the TPLF of launching deadly attacks on a pair of federal military camps in the region. He has also accused the party of defying his government and seeking to destabilize it.
The premier has so far spurned all calls by the United Nations, the African Union, and various countries for talks with the armed rebels in Tigray.
The fighting has reportedly claimed the lives of hundreds of people and displacing thousands of others.
The TPLF claimed a day earlier that civilians had lost their lives during a “heavy bombardment” of Adigrat town by the Ethiopian Defence Forces (EDF). However, Ahmed’s government, which regards the TPLF as a criminal administration, insists it does not target civilians.
The fighting has not been confined within the scope of Tigray, but spread beyond it, spurring concern of a wider war, as Press TV report read.
As all rights groups are concerned about ethnic violence and destabilization in Ethiopia, Africa’s second-most populous country, Amnesty International has documented a horrific massacre in which “scores, and likely hundreds, of people, were stabbed or hacked to death” in the southwestern town of Mai-Kadra.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has warned that a full-scale humanitarian crisis is unfolding in the region.
The World body also called for the creating of humanitarian corridors to allow aid agencies access and has said it is preparing for as many as 200,000 refugees to flee the restive region in the coming months.