İrem UZUN -TDO- Ethiopian government forces have taken “full control” of the Tigray region’s capital, Mekelle, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has said. There was no immediate comment on Saturday from forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in the northern region, who have been fighting federal troops for more than three weeks. “The federal government is now fully in control of the city of Mekelle,” Abiy said in a statement posted on his Twitter page.
The advance on Mekelle came almost a week after Abiy told the TPLF leadership to surrender or face an assault on their stronghold. However, experts have said federal forces may face a lengthy insurgency in the region. Claims from all sides are difficult to verify since phone and internet links to Tigray have been cut and access has been tightly controlled since fighting began on November 4. The Ethiopian government has shut down communications and limited media access across the region. Earlier this week the federal government issued a 72-hour ultimatum to the TPLF and warned that it would take "final action" to get control of Mekele. Thousands of people are believed to have died and some 43,000 refugees have fled to Sudan during the conflict.