Ethiopia says rebel forces 'surrendering'

About 40,000 refugees have fled fighting in Ethiopia for neighbouring Sudan.
About 40,000 refugees have fled fighting in Ethiopia for neighbouring Sudan.

The government of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed says many Tigrayan militia and special forces have surrendered in line with an ultimatum before a threatened offensive against the regional capital Mekelle.

"Using the government's 72-hour period, a large number of Tigray militia and special forces are surrendering. Many have surrendered through the Afar region, and the remaining forces are surrendering peacefully," a government taskforce said.

There was no immediate response from the Tigray People's Liberation Front, which earlier said it had destroyed an important army division.

Reuters has been unable to verify statements from either side since phone and internet connections to Tigray are down and access to the area is restricted.

Australian Associated Press