Nov 22, 2020 17:51 UTC
  •  Ethiopia army threatens 'no mercy' will be in all-out assault on rebel-held Mekele

Ethiopia’s military has threatened a full-scale attack on the rebel-held Mekele, the capital of the dissident Tigray region, warning civilians to flee and save their lives, as violence continues to rage in the East African country for the third week.

“The next decisive battle is to surround Mekele with tanks,” said Dejene Tsegaye, a military spokesman, at a press conference on Sunday, threatening to siege the capital of the northern region.

The military official further warned the city’s half a million inhabitants, saying, “Save yourself! A directive has been communicated for you to dissociate yourself from this junta, after that there will be no mercy.”

Tigray has been engulfed in bloody fighting since November 4, when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced the launch of military operations against the regional government there.

The announcement led to a dramatic escalation of a long-running feud between the federal government and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), the region's ruling party, which dominated Ethiopian politics for almost three decades before Abiy assumed power in 2018.

The fighting has reportedly claimed the lives of hundreds of people and displacing thousands of others, who have fled across Ethiopia's northern border into neighboring Sudan.

The TPLF claimed a day earlier that civilians had lost their lives during a “heavy bombardment” of Adigrat town by the Ethiopian Defence Forces (EDF). However, Ahmed's government, which regards the TPLF as a criminal administration, insists it does not target civilians.

The fighting has not been confined within the scope of Tigray as the TPLF is firing rockets at Asmara, the capital of neighboring Eritrea to the north, which it accuses of supporting Ahmed's government, and the city of Bahir Dar to the southwest.

Army takes town north of Mekele: Ethiopian govt.

The federal government claims that it has so far captured a string of towns in recent days, including the ancient city of Aksum.

On Sunday, it also announced that the army had managed to capture and the town of Edega Hamus, which is situated 100 kilometers north of Mekele.

“Defense forces have controlled Edaga Hamus city, which is on the road from Adigrat to Mekele,” said the Ethiopia State of Emergency Fact Check, a government taskforce, in a tweet. “The defense forces are currently marching on the campaign's last goal, Mekele city,” it added.