Abiy declares fall of Tigray capital to Ethiopia's federal forces

Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed

This frame grab from a video obtained from the Ethiopian Public Broadcaster (EBC) on November 4, 2020, shows Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordering a military response to a deadly attack by the ruling party of Tigray.

Photo credit: Ethiopian Public Broadcaster | AFP

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Saturday evening announced that his forces had conquered Mekele, the last remaining fort of the embattled Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF).

The victory, Abiy said, would effectively end the military operation against a group Ethiopia now considers a junta.

Abiy said national forces conquered the city without harming civilians and destroying heritage sites.

"Since yesterday, our forces have been [planning] how to control Mekele without harming civilians. Accordingly, we have easily taken full control of the city this afternoon without any bloodshed. We have also freed over 7,000 members of the Federal North Command who had been stationed in Mekele," he said.

"The final militarily operation against the TPLF junta based in Mekele has officially ended today. What remains is hunting down hiding TPLF leaders and bringing them to justice."

PM Abiy also said the people of Tigray "approved that they were not alongside the TPLF members being hunted".

ENDF Chief of staff, General Berhanu Jula, confirmed that the armed forces have taken full control of Mekele.

The move came 48 hours after PM Abiy ordered the "final phase" of the crackdown on TPLF, once the ruling party of Ethiopia, but which Addis Ababa now considers  a 'junta.'

TPLF earlier confirmed that the central part of Mekele city was under attack with "heavy weapons and artillery", saying the operation by the Ethiopian government began at about 10am.

Sources said residents were shocked by the sound of gunfire and heavy explosions.