The Government of Ethiopia has warned residents of the troubled Tigray region to flee the area as a 72-hour ultimatum nears elapsing for the commencement of hostilities against the factional Tigray People’s Liberation Front.
Senior official, Redwan Hussein, told journalists on Monday that the Tigray regional leaders are “hiding out in a densely populated city; the slightest strike would end up losing lives” and “anything can happen” if civilians do not flee, AP reports.
Human rights groups and others were alarmed over the weekend when Ethiopia’s military warned civilians in the Tigray capital, Mekele, that there would be “no mercy” if they don’t “save themselves” before the offensive to flush out defiant regional leaders.
Amnesty International warns that deliberately attacking civilians and civilian objects “is prohibited under international humanitarian law and constitutes war crimes.”
Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, warned residents to save themselves or there would be no mercy when strikes begin.
Redwan added that Mekele, a city of around 500,000 people, was now encircled at a distance of about 50 kilometres (30 miles), and with rougher terrain left behind “what remains is the plain land, easier for tanks.”.
He added, “By providing a brute fact, it is letting people to understand the reality and make the right choice.”
Ethiopia’s government is urging Mekele residents to separate themselves from the TPLF leaders in time before the military offensive.