ADDIS ABABA / NAIROBI: Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed gave regional Tigrayian forces 72 hours to surrender before the army began an offensive on the regional capital of Mekelle.
“We urge you to surrender peacefully within 72 hours, recognizing that you are at the point of no return,” Abiy said in a Twitter message Sunday night.
Tigrayan forces could not immediately be reached for comment.
A military spokesperson said earlier that the advancing Ethiopian troops planned to surround Mekelle with tanks and bomb the city to force surrender.
The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which refuses to relinquish its dominance of the northern region, said its forces were digging trenches and standing firm.
Reuters could not confirm the latest statements about the war. Complaints from all parties are difficult to verify because telephone and Internet communications have been interrupted.
Federal troops from Abiy have captured a series of towns in aerial bombardment and ground fighting, and are now targeting Mekelle, a highland town of about 500,000 where the rebels are based.
The war has killed hundreds, if not thousands, sent more than 30,000 refugees to neighboring Sudan, and seen rockets fired by rebels at the neighboring Amhara region and across the border into the Eritrean nation.
Foreign nations have called for talks, but Abiy has continued the offensive since Nov. 4.
(Writing by Katharine Houreld and Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Frances Kerry)
Disclaimer: This post was automatically posted from an agency feed without any text changes and has not been reviewed by an editor