Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has come out to issue a 72-hour deadline to the Tigrayan forces to surrender after weeks of conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region.
In a statement released by the eastern nation ruler, Abiy said that government forces were now “in the third and final phase” of their military operation in the area.
“We urge you to surrender peacefully within the next 72 hours, recognizing that you are at a point of no return,” he added, while speaking to members of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
It is recalled that the regional government of Tigray have been at loggerhead with Ethiopian federal forces in a duration spanning over two weeks.
Tensions were believed to have escalated after the PM announced a military offensive to include air strikes. The conflict followed over Tigray’s unilateral decision to elect a regional administration against the PM wishes.
“Our operation aims to end the impunity that has prevailed for far too long and hold accountable individuals and groups under the laws of the land”, Abiy said at the time. Sources also believe there has been “frequent bombings in the Tigray capital of Mekelle, including near a church and university”.
Over this period, number of fatalities have run into hundreds with more than 30,000 refugees fleeing to neigbouring Sudan, as stated by the United Nations.
“A full-scale humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Ethiopia”, the UN says.
Earlier last week, the local party released a statement on Facebook vowing that “the people of Tigray will never kneel down to actions of aggressors”, as Abiy said the deadline for them to surrender had expired.
The Tigrayan leaders have accused Abiy’s federal forces of targeting churches and homes and killing innocent citizens. However, the government has come out to deny such allegations.