‘Save yourselves’, Ethiopia tells Tigrayans because it strikes on rebel-held capital

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© Reuters. Sudanese navy officer retains guard as Ethiopians who fled warfare in Tigray area, collect to obtain aid provides from the World Meals Programme on the Fashaga camp on the Sudan-Ethiopia border in Al-Qadarif state

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ADDIS ABABA/NAIROBI (Reuters) – Ethiopia’s military plans to encompass the rebel-held capital of Tigray area with tanks and will use artillery on town to attempt to finish an almost three-week warfare, a navy spokesman stated on Sunday, urging civilians to avoid wasting themselves.

The Tigray Individuals’s Liberation Entrance (TPLF), which is refusing to give up its rule of the northern area, stated its forces have been digging trenches and standing agency.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’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 based mostly.

The warfare has killed tons of, presumably hundreds, despatched greater than 30,000 refugees into neighbouring Sudan, and seen rockets fired by rebels into neighbouring Amhara area and throughout the border into the nation of Eritrea.

Nations round Africa and Europe have urged a truce, however Abiy has up to now rebuffed that.

“The subsequent phases are the decisive a part of the operation, which is to encircle Mekelle utilizing tanks,” navy spokesman Colonel Dejene Tsegaye advised Ethiopia Broadcasting Company.

“We need 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 shall be no mercy.”

‘WAVES AFTER WAVES’

TPLF chief Debretsion Gebremichael advised Reuters by textual content message that his forces have been resisting a push from south of Mekelle whereas additionally preventing close to the northern city of Adigrat after it had fallen to federal troops.

“Encircling Mekelle is their plan however but they could not,” he stated. “On south entrance, they could not transfer an inch for a couple of week. They (are) sending waves after waves however to no avail.”

Reuters couldn’t confirm the most recent statements on the warfare. Claims by all sides are arduous to confirm as a result of cellphone and web communication has been down since preventing started on Nov. 4.

Abiy accuses the Tigrayan leaders of revolting in opposition to central authority and attacking federal troops within the city of Dansha on Nov. 4. The rebels say his authorities has marginalised and persecuted Tigrayans since taking workplace two years in the past.

The prime minister drew plaudits for opening up Ethiopia’s closed economic system and repressive political system after taking workplace. He received a Nobel Peace Prize final yr for a peace settlement with Eritrea.

Worldwide rights teams say his authorities has carried out mass arrests after outbreaks of violence and detained journalists this yr. The Nobel Peace Prize committee urged peace after his offensive in opposition to the Tigrayan leaders started.

Redwan Hussein, spokesman for the federal government’s job power on Tigray, stated there was nonetheless time for the TPLF management to give up. “The federal government will take most restraint to not trigger main dangers for civilians,” he added.

He stated that whereas many Tigrayan particular forces and militia fighters had surrendered or scattered round Adigrat, resistance was stronger on the southern entrance, the place rebels have dug up roads, destroyed bridges and booby-trapped roads with explosives. He stated authorities troops had taken excessive floor there and have been shifting ahead.

Assist companies worry a humanitarian catastrophe in a area the place tons of of hundreds relied on meals support and have been displaced even earlier than preventing started.

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