The Ethiopian military is launching an assault on Mekelle, capital of the restive northern region of Tigray, after the local ruling party rejected an ultimatum that they surrender within 72 hours.
This is according to a communiqué released on Twitter on Thursday by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali.
Earlier in the week, the government issued an ultimatum, giving the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) 72 hours to surrender.
“The Ethiopian National Defense Forces have now been directed to conclude the third and final phase of our rule of law operations.
“In this final phase, great care will be given to protect innocent civilians from harm.
“All efforts will be made to ensure that the city of Mekelle, which was built through the hard work of our people, will not be severely damaged,” the statement reads.
The armed conflict in northern Ethiopia broke out earlier in the month after the federal government had accused the TPLF of attacking a local military base and launched a security operation against it.