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Ethiopian PM says defense forces ordered to conclude final phase of operations in Tigray

(Xinhua)    08:30, November 27, 2020

ADDIS ABABA, Nov. 26 (Xinhua) -- The Ethiopian government on Thursday disclosed that it has embarked on the final phase of the military operation against the insurgent Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) fighters in Ethiopia's northern region.

The urgent call was made by the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, in a statement issued on Thursday, as he emphasized that the 72-hour period granted to "the criminal TPLF clique to surrender peacefully is now over and our law enforcement campaign has reached its final stage."

"The last peaceful gate which had remained open for the TPLF clique to walk through have now been firmly closed as a result of TPLF's contempt for the people of Ethiopia," Ahmed emphasized.

He revealed that the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) "have now been directed to conclude the third and final phase of our rule of law operations. In this final phase, great care will be given to protect innocent civilians from harm."

Noting that within the past 72-hours ultimatum, "thousands of Tigray Special Forces and militia members have surrendered to the National Defense Force," Ahmed said, "many young people in Tigray, realizing the TPLF's evil intentions, have also refrained from engaging in TPLF's destructive ambitions."

"Although this may have been a decision taken in the last hours, it is nevertheless a responsible decision that is expected of citizens," Ahmed said, as he emphasized that when the federal government issued the 72-hour surrender time, it had two objectives.

According to the Ethiopian premier, the 72-hours ultimatum was made to demonstrate that the intention of the military operations is to enforce the rule of law per the laws of the land.

"If the criminal TPLF chose to peacefully surrender, the campaign would have been finalized with the least amount of damage," Ahmed said, adding that "we have provided the opportunity for peaceful surrender on numerous occasions in the past weeks."

The second goal of the 72-hours ultimatum was to provide protection for those that finally understand the criminality of the TPLF clique and distance themselves for the group, it was noted.

"All efforts will be made to ensure that the city of Mekelle, which was built through the hard work of our people, will not be severely damaged," Ahmed affirmed.

"All precautions will be taken to ensure that heritage sites, places of worship, public facilities, development institutions and residential areas will not be targets," he added.

The Ethiopian Defense Forces are reportedly surrounding Mekelle city, capital of the Tigray regional state, where senior TPLF leaders are believed to be stationed.

The Ethiopian government as well as political analysis have been recently calling on TPLF fighters to disarm themselves and avoid clashes with defense forces in order to protect the safety of civilians.

"We call on the people of Mekelle and its surroundings to disarm, stay at home and stay away from military targets, and take all necessary precautions," Ahmed said on Thursday.

"We also call on the people of Mekelle to do their part in reducing damages to be sustained because of a handful of criminal TPLF elements, by exposing and handing over the criminal clique over to law enforcement agents," he added.

The Ethiopian government has been blaming the TPLF, which was one of the four coalition fronts of Ethiopia's former ruling party the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), for masterminding various treasonous acts across different parts of the country with an overarching goal of destabilizing the country.

Since the early hours of Nov. 4, the Ethiopian government has been undertaking military operations against the TPLF, which rules over Ethiopia's northernmost Tigray regional state.

The federal government's operation followed the TPLF's attack on the Northern command base of the Ethiopian Defense Force, a division stationed in the region for over two decades and based in Mekelle city, capital of Tigray region.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Liang Jun, Bianji)

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