Richmond Times-Dispatch

Ethiopiawa­rning civilians of ‘nomercy’ inTigrayof­fensive

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NAIROBI, Kenya— Ethiopia’s military is warning civilians in the besieged Tigray regional capital that there will be “no mercy” if they don’t “save themselves” before a final offensive to flush out defiant regional leaders — a threat that Human Rights Watch said Sunday could violate internatio­nal law.

“From now on, the fighting will be a tank battle,” spokesman Col. Dejene Tsegaye said late Saturday, asserting that the army was marching on the Tigray capital, Mekele, and would encircle it with tanks. “Our people in Mekele should be notified that they should protect themselves from heavy artillery.”

But “treating a whole city as a military target would not only unlawful, it could also be considered a form of collective punishment,” Human Rights Watch researcher Laetitia Bader tweeted Sunday.

Ethiopia’s Nobel Peace Prizewinni­ng prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, gave the leaders of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front 72 hours to surrender. He accused the TPLF leaders of using Mekele residents as human shields.

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