“The last peaceful gate that was left open for the TPLF clique to go through is now firmly closed,” the statement said, referring to the ruling ruling party in the region, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.
Abiy claimed that “thousands of Tigray special forces and thousands of militias” surrendered during this time – CNN claimed it could not independently control the region due to a power outage. The internet, cell phones, and landlines don’t all work.
Ethiopian federal forces were notified to complete the “final phase” of the occupation of the regional capital, Mekelle. On Saturday, the military announced that Mekelle was surrounded by tanks and warned civilians to be aware of the artillery, as the military would “not have mercy on the junta.”
“Great care is taken to protect innocent civilians from harm,” Abiy wrote. “We call on the residents of Mekelle and its environs to disarm, stay at home and refrain from military targets and take all necessary precautions.”
“I call on Ethiopian leaders to do their utmost to protect civilians, uphold human rights and ensure humanitarian access,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tweeted on Wednesday.
The state-appointed Ethiopian Commission on Human Rights (EHRC), which described itself as an “independent national” institution, also stressed the importance of protecting civilians.
“The EHRC emphasizes that increased caution to avoid civilian damage is even more important now, at this stage of the conflict,” said Daniel Bekele, head of the EHRC in a tweet.