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Members of Amhara region militias ride on their truck as they head to face the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), in Sanja, Amhara region near a border with Tigray, Ethiopia November 9, 2020

Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, announced the end of military operations in the restive Tigray region and the control of federal forces over Mekele, the capital of the region, after fighting that lasted about three weeks.

“I am pleased to announce that we have completed and stopped the military operations in the Tigray region,” he said on Twitter.

About an hour earlier, he announced in a statement that “the federal government now fully controls the city of Mekele.”

The Abiy Ahmed government sought to quell a rebellion by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) that dominated the central government for decades before it came to power in 2018.

Thousands are believed to have died during the fighting, and some 44,000 refugees fled to neighboring Sudan, in a conflict that has raised questions about Abiy’s ability to unite divided ethnic groups in Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous country.

However, the leader of the TPLF, Debarsion Gabramkeel, said in a text message to Reuters that his forces did not surrender.

He added in his message: “Their brutality will only increase our determination to fight these invaders until the end.”

Earlier, the Ethiopian Prime Minister said that the police forces are searching for the leaders of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.

He stressed that the military operation aims to restore law and order, noting that “the Federal Police will continue its mission in arresting the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front criminals and bringing them to court.”