Ethiopian military sources said that the federal army is strengthening its advance towards the city of Mekele, the capital of Tigray region, while Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed gave the regional forces 72 hours to surrender.
“We call on you to surrender within 72 hours … you are in the stage of no return,” Ahmed said Sunday evening in a statement.
Earlier, a military spokesman said that the Ethiopian army is planning to besiege the provincial capital with tanks, and may resort to artillery to bomb the city in an attempt to end a war that has been going on for about 3 weeks, and the spokesman urged civilians in the region to protect themselves.
This comes after the advance of the Ethiopian army and its control over the cities surrounding the provincial capital, most notably Idaga Homs, and Adi Qurat, which is the second largest city in the region, overlooking its capital, Mikeli, which has about 500,000 people, and the regional forces of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front are stationed in it.
Thus, the army would have controlled 80% of the territory in northern Ethiopia. The war has claimed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of lives, and regional forces have also seen rockets fired at the neighboring Amhara region and across the border into Eritrea.
The front is digging trenches
For its part, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front – which refuses to end its rule of the Northern Territory – said its forces were digging trenches and steadfastly confronting government forces.
A spokesman for the provincial government described the retreat of the front forces as a tactical withdrawal to save lives, and to lure federal forces into the decisive battle.
On the other hand, the European Union announced, through its Commission, that an amount of 4 million euros (4.7 million dollars) will be directed to emergency aid for Ethiopian refugees who fled to Sudan to escape the fighting in Tigray.
According to United Nations estimates, the flow rates of refugees fleeing the fighting in Ethiopia to Sudan are steadily increasing, and as of the end of last week, their number reached more than 31,000 distributed in a number of camps on the borders.
The agencies of the international organization are preparing for the possibility of the arrival of 200 thousand refugees to Sudan during the next six months.