Ethiopian officials said that military forces have killed three members of the Tigray region's ruling party including the country's ex-foreign minister, Seyoum Mesfin, after they allegedly refused to surrender Wednesday.
Mesfin along with two other leaders of the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) was confirmed to have been shot and killed during the clash. The Ethiopian task force in the Tigray region confirmed Thursday that they had arrested five other TPLF officials.
The two other TPLF leaders that were killed were former federal affairs minister, Abay Tsahaye, and ex-parliamentary chief, Asmelash Woldesalassie.
Since federal troops captured the Tigray capital city of Mekelle from the TPLF late last year, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had ordered a manhunt to capture all of the rebel group's leadership.
Abiy declared victory in the conflict after launching an all-out campaign to destroy and disarm the rebel group. The move was a response to the increased attacks conducted by the TPLF - including attacks on federal military bases and government infrastructure.
The United Nations said that the conflict in the area and the continuous air raids and skirmishes have killed thousands of people from both sides. The organization said that fighting is continuing in some parts of the region and millions of people are in desperate need of aid.
Human rights groups and aid groups still have very limited access to the area, which has been in a total communications blackout since the conflict began.
TPLF leaders that have remained at large have vowed to continue fighting Abiy's government. Sources with knowledge in the matter said that the fugitive leaders are now based in the mountains of the region in northern Ethiopia. However, their exact whereabouts are still unknown.
Last week, federal officials said that they had captured one of the founding members of the TPLF - a man named Sebhat Nega. Over the weekend, state-run media said that federal troops had killed 15 TPLF members and arrested eight others.
Among those that were captured over the weekend was Tigray's former president Abay Weldu. He also served as the former chairman of the region's ruling party.