Ethiopia’s PM Abiy promises ‘final’ offensive in Tigray

Ethiopia’s leader has warned that “the final and crucial” military operation will soon be launched against the rulers of the country’s rebellious northern Tigray region.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Tuesday a three-day deadline to surrender had expired, paving the way for a final push on Mekelle, the region’s capital.

“The final critical act of law enforcement will be done in the coming days,” Abiy said in a statement posted on Facebook.

The prime minister’s warning came after federal government forces carried out “precision-led and surgical air operations” outside Mekelle, a government emergency task force said, and ground forces pushed forward.

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which governs the region, said civilians had been killed in the attacks, allegations the task force denied.

Tigray TV showed what appeared to be a bombed-out residential area with damaged roofs and craters in the ground in Mekelle.

“I heard the sound of some explosions. Boom, boom, boom, as I entered the house,” the station quoted a resident as saying. “When I got out later, I saw all this destruction.”

With communications down and media barred, it is impossible to independently verify assertions made by any side.

“Security forces are telling us that Mekelle is the prize needed to defeat the TPLF, and in the next 48 hours they will be carrying out attacks on different sites in the capital of the Tigray region. They are calling this a ‘law-enforcement operation’ against ‘impunity’ to bring it to an end once and for all,” he said.

In a statement, the government’s task force said federal forces had “liberated” the Raya, Chercher, Gugufto and Mehoni localities on the eastern front along with Shire on the western front of the conflict.

They had destroyed TPLF military bases in both areas and was now heading for the state capital Mekelle, the statement said. “The force of the junta is now retreating, and the army is marching to bring the TPLF junta to justice.”

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