Ethiopian forces will take control of the Tigray region’s capital Mekelle in coming days, the military said late on Friday, a day after the Prime Minister announced the “final phase” of an offensive in the region.
Federal forces seized control of Wikro, a town 50 km (30 miles) north of Mekelle and “will control Mekelle in a few days”, Lieutenant-General Hassan Ibrahim said in a statement. Government troops had also taken control of several other towns, he said.
Reuters was not immediately able to reach the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) for comment, or to verify the statement.
Claims by all sides in the three-week-old conflict between government and TPLF forces have been impossible to verify because phone and internet connections to the region are down and access to the area is tightly controlled.
On Friday evening in the neighbouring country of Eritrea, “a loud noise, possibly an explosion” was heard in the capital Asmara, the U.S. Embassy there said in a statement early on Saturday.
Reuters has not been able to reach Eritrean government official for more than two weeks. TPLF rockets hit neighbouring Eritrea on Nov. 14.