ADDIS ABABA: The Ethiopian military plans to use tanks to surround Mekelle, the capital of the northern Tigray region, and warns civilians that it could also use artillery on the city, media reported on Sunday of state.
“The following phases are the decisive part of the operation, which consists of surrounding Mekelle with the aid of tanks, ending the battle in the mountainous areas and advancing towards the fields,” said Colonel Dejene Tsegaye, a porte – military speech, to the Ethiopian broadcasting company.
The conflict erupted on November 4 after what the government described as a surprise attack on federal troops by forces of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the political party that controls Tigray.
Information on the fighting is extremely patchy, and claims by all parties are difficult to verify as telephone and internet communications with the region have been down since the start of the conflict.
Both sides claim that federal forces have captured Adigrat, 116 kilometers (72 miles) north of Mekelle.
Dejene said civilians in Mekelle, which has a population of half a million, should be aware of the danger.
“Until now, we only attacked targets on which junta fighters were stationed, but in Mekelle’s case it could be different,” he said, referring to the TPLF.
“We want to send a message to the public in Mekelle to save themselves from any artillery attack and free themselves from the junta. The junta now protects itself within the public and the public must isolate itself from the junta. “
“After that, there will be no more pity.”
TPLF forces were not immediately available for comment.
(Written by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Frances Kerry)
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