Ethiopian federal forces have taken “full control” of the Tigray region’s capital Mekelle, the military’s chief of staff Birhanu Jula said in a statement posted on the military’s official Facebook page on Saturday evening.
In a press conference he gave this evening, General Birhanu said the army was carrying out a courageous law enforcement operation following the attack orchestrated by the extremist TPLF group on the Northern Command of the National Defense Forces.
The army chief General Birhanu Jula, who was quoted by the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation as saying that the government forces
“Completely controlled Mekelle and control of the Northern Command Center in Mekelle.”
Adding that 7,000 members of the army’s Northern Command who were held hostage by the TPLF had been freed.
Though the TPLF Junta has armed the people of Tigray to attack the National Defense Force, the reality on the ground was the contrary he said adding the people of Tigray showed their loyalty to the army by handing over their weapons.
“Because the resideants of Mekelle have fully implemented the instructions forwarded to them by the arm, the national Defense force was able to control the city easily for.” General Birhanu
Noting that the “victory is a great blessing for the people of Tigray,” he affirmed that the people of Tigray will be free from the tyranny of the extremist group and get relief from its oppressive structures.
The government had given the TPLF an ultimatum that expired on Wednesday to surrender or face an assault on the city.
Meanwhile, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Saturday that military operations in the northern region of Tigray have been completed, shortly after he announced federal troops had seized full control of the regional capital Mekelle.
“I am pleased to share that we have completed and ceased the military operations in the Tigray region,”
he said in a tweet. Less than an hour earlier, he said in a statement,
“The federal government is now fully in control of the city of Mekelle”.
Abiy said federal police were searching for the TPLF leaders. It was not clear if any of them had surrendered.
The prime minister, who has called the government offensive a law and order operation.
“Federal police will now continue their task of apprehending TPLF criminals and bring them to the court of law,”
The Prime Minister said the army had secured the release of thousands of troops from the Northern Command, a military unit based in Tigray, who he said had been held hostage by the TPLF.
Federal troops had taken control of “the airport, public institutions, the regional administration office and other critical facilities,” Abiy said.
The Ethiopian National Defense Forces didn’t have to bombard the city and residents of Mekelle to control the city. Mekelle remains one of Ethiopia’s key cities and the efforts to bring to justice the criminal clique will not entail discriminatory ‘bombardment’ as alluded by TPLF and their propagandists.