The Ethiopian army has seized control over the northern provincial capital of Mekelle in Tigray region and freed some of its officers held hostage during the three-weeklong military assault, Prime Minister Ahmed Abiy announced in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, on Saturday.
“The Federal Government is fully in control of Mekelle with the full command of the regional capital,” Prime Minister Abiy said.
He said the federal police would begin the work of clearing the region and apprehending members of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), who were involved in the conflict in the region.
“This marks the completion of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces last phase of the conflict,” Abiy said in a statement declaring victory in the operation.
The military managed to sweep the regional capital, taking control of the Northern Command, which was attacked hours before a full-scale military assault on the region was declared.
Prime Minister Abiy said the authorities are in full control of the camp, the airport and public institutions, including the regional administrative offices.
Earlier, UN agencies said since the Ethiopian government launched the third and final phase of their “law enforcement operations” towards Mekelle city, capital of Tigray region, a city of more than 500,000 people earlier in the week, the region had been tense.
The launch came following the expiration of a 72-hour grace period granted the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) to surrender.
The UN Humanitarian Office for Ethiopia (OCHA) reported that tension remained high in Mekelle in anticipation of the military action announced by the government.