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African Union Envoys Head for Ethiopia As Fighting Claims Thousands of Lives
By Staff, Agencies
African Union envoys headed to Ethiopia on Wednesday hours before a government ultimatum was to expire for northern forces to surrender in a three-week war that has shaken the region and killed thousands of Tigrayan fighters according to one report.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's government has set a 72-hour deadline for the Tigray People's Liberation Front [TPLF] to lay down arms or face an assault on their highland capital Mekelle, home to half a million people.
The deadline was due to run out on Wednesday evening.
Large numbers have died and there has been widespread destruction in aerial bombardments and ground fighting since the war began on November 4. Some 42,000 refugees have fled over the border to Sudan and TPLF rockets have hit neighboring Eritrea.
AMMA news agency, run by authorities in Amhara region who back Abiy, said that more than 10,000 Tigrayan "junta forces" had been "destroyed" with more than 15,000 small arms and heavy weapons seized in battles from Dansha to Adwa.
There was no immediate response from the TPLF, Tigray's dominant political party which is spearheading the fighting. It too has spoken of killing large numbers of its enemies during a stream of often contradictory claims by both sides.
With phone and internet connections to Tigray largely down and access to the area strictly controlled, Reuters could not verify the AMMA report or other statements from all sides.
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