A government spokesperson in Addis Ababa has called on residents in Tigray’s capital, Mekelle, to leave the city or work with the government to defeat opposition forces.
Redwan Hussein said time was running out ahead of a deadline for Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) troops, who control the mountainous region, to surrender by Wednesday.
But the leader of the region, which has been fighting national forces for nearly three weeks, said his people would rather die than give up fighting.
Ethiopian authorities insist total victory in the northern Tigray state is close. They say they want to avoid a fierce fight in Mekelle – home to 500,000 people.
A communications blackout in the region has made it hard to verify either side’s claims.
The government said it’s considering opening channels for mediation with Tigray in the coming days – but only with pressure groups or elders and not the TPLF leadership, which it calls a gang of criminals.