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


He said the army had entered the city in the “last phase” of the conflict with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front – but details are hard to confirm as there is a communications blackout.


The TPLF leader vowed to “fight… to the last”, in a statement to Reuters.


Hundreds have reportedly been killed in the conflict and thousands displaced.


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


Meanwhile, the US embassy in neighbouring Eritrea said six explosions were heard in the capital Asmara late on Saturday. Tigrayan forces have previously fired rockets at Eritrea, which they accuse of backing Ethiopian government forces in the weeks-long conflict. It is not clear if the latest incidents in Asmara are linked to the fighting in Tigray.



What does the government say?


In a statement on Twitter, Mr Abiy said the army was in full control of Mekelle and that this “marks the completion of the [military’s] last phase”.


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


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


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


Mr Abiy’s statement said federal forces would “continue their task of apprehending TPLF criminals and bring them to the court of law”.


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