Based on the federal government, the Ethiopian army has taken “full management” of the capital of Tigray

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Amhara Special Force members return to Dansha’s 5th Division mechanized military base after fighting the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in Danasha, Amhara region, near the Tigray border

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ADDIS ABABA / NAIROBI (Reuters) – The Ethiopian federal forces have taken “full control” of the capital Mekelle of the Tigray region, the prime minister and chief of staff said on Saturday evening.

Authorities had previously said that government forces were in the final stages of an offensive in the region and were concerned with protecting civilians in Mekelle, a town of 500,000.

There has been no immediate comment from the Tigrayan forces in the northern region, which have been fighting government forces for three weeks.

“The federal government now has full control over the city of Mekelle,” Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said in a statement posted on his Twitter page.

This followed a statement from the Army Chief of Staff Birhanu Jula on the military’s official Facebook page (NASDAQ :).

Claims from all sides are difficult to verify as phone and internet connections into the area have been cut and access has been tightly controlled since the fighting began on November 4th.

On Saturday before, a diplomat in direct contact with residents and the leaders of the Tigrayan armed forces said the federal forces had launched an offensive to capture Mekelle.

The government had issued an ultimatum to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which expired Wednesday, to lay down weapons or face an attack on the city.

Thousands of people are believed to have died and around 43,000 refugees fled to neighboring Sudan during the conflict. The northern region of Tigray also borders the nation of Eritrea.

Abiy accuses Tigrayan leaders of starting the war by attacking federal troops at a base in Tigray. The TPLF says the attack was a preemptive strike.

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