Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has announced that the military will begin the ‘final phase’ of an offensive in the rebellious northern Tigray region, hours after an ultimatum for Tigray forces to surrender expired.
The PM’s statement was released via his Twitter page, where he said the 72-hour period granted to the criminal Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) clique to surrender peacefully was over, and that the law enforcement campaign had reached its final stage.
Mr. Ahmed was quoted as saying “When the federal government issued the 72-hour surrender time, it had two objectives… it was to demonstrate that the intention of our operations is to enforce the rule of law per the laws of the land. If the TPLF clique chose to peacefully surrender, the campaign would have been finalized with the least amount of damage.”
Ahmed added that the second objective of the 72-hour surrender time was to provide protection for those who understand the criminality of the TPLF clique and to dissociate themselves from the group.
He noted that within that time, thousands of Tigray Special Forces and militia members had surrendered to the National Defence Force and many young people had refrained from engaging in TPLF’s destructive ambitions.
In his statement, the Prime Minister said that, while the Ethiopian National Defence Forces have been directed to conclude the third and final phase of the operations, great care will be taken to protect innocent civilians from harm.
However, he has warned civilians to stay away from combat zones, saying “we call on the people of Mekelle and its environs to disarm, stay at home, stay away from military targets, and to take all necessary precautions.”
He has also asked the people of Mekelle to play their part towards minimising damages to be sustained, because of a handful of criminal TPLF elements, by exposing and handing over the criminal clique to law enforcement agents.
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