Addis Ababa (Agenzia Fides) - Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed this morning ordered the army to launch the army of the regional government of Tigray in the capital, Mekele. The ultimatum launched on Sunday 22 November has expired, when Abiy gave the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) 72 hours to lay down their arms. The ultimatum was rejected by Tigrinya leaders whose forces have been fighting federal troops in the north of the country for three weeks. The fighting claimed hundreds of lives and resulted in the displacement of over 40,000 people.
"In this final phase, great care will be taken to protect innocent civilians. All efforts will be made to ensure that the city of Mekele, which was built thanks to the hard work of our people, is not seriously damaged. We ask the inhabitants of the city to lay down their weapons and stay at home", said Abiy, according to whom in recent days thousands "of members of the TPLF militias and special forces had surrendered to federal forces before the deadline expired.
Fears that the assault on Mekele, which has a population of half a million, will lead to a massacre. To prevent this, diplomatic efforts have been initiated: the United Nations Security Council held its first meeting on the crisis on November 24. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on "Ethiopian leaders to do everything possible to protect the civilian population", while the United States, the EU and other international powers are asking for mediation through the African Union, whose headquarters are located in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 26/11/2020)