Troops ordered to move into Tigray capital: Abiy

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister said on Thursday the Army has been ordered to move on the embattled Tigray regional capital after his 72-hour ultimatum ended for Tigray leaders to surrender, and he warned the city’s half-million residents to stay indoors and disarm.

The military offensive “has reached its final stage” after three weeks of fighting, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office said. That means tanks and other weaponry can close in on Mekele, whose residents were warned of “no mercy” if they didn’t move away from Tigray leaders in time.

That caused international alarm as rights groups said such wording could violate international law and put civilians in further danger. “We will take utmost care to protect civilians,” Mr. Abiy’s statement said.

It also asserted that thousands of Tigray militia and special forces surrendered during the 72-hour period.

The UN has reported people fleeing Mekele, but communications and transport links remain severed to Tigray, and it’s not clear how many people received the warnings in time. Tigray regional leaders couldn’t immediately be reached.

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