Ethiopia’s Tigray crisis: PM claims capture of regional capital Mekelle

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Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed says government forces are “fully in control” of the regional capital of the northern Tigray region.

The army earlier entered Mekelle as it stepped its offensive against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.

The leader of the TPLF told Reuters it would continue to “defend our right to self-determination” and “fight these invaders to the last”.

Hundreds have been killed and thousands in the conflict.

It began earlier this month after Mr Abiy announced an against the TPLF, the regional party, accusing it of attacking the Ethiopian army’s northern command HQ in Mekelle.

What has the government said about Tigray?
In a statement on Twitter, Mr Abiy said the army in full control and that this “marks the completion of the [military’s] last phase”.

am pleased to share that we have completed and ceased the military in the Tigray region,” he said.

The army had released thousands of soldiers taken by the TPLF and in control of the airport and regional offices, Mr Abiy said, adding that the had been carried out with “due care for citizens”.

There have been fears for the 500,000 people living in the city.

Mr Abiy said: “We have ahead of us the critical task of rebuilding what has been destroyed… [and] returning those have fled.”

Details of the are hard to confirm because all , mobile and internet communications with the Tigray region have been cut.