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Ethiopia forces, Tigrayan rebels battle over key city

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Tigray People’s Liberation Front have claimed management over Dessie, marking a serious advance within the practically year-long struggle

Ethiopian forces and Tigrayan rebels fought a pitched battle for management of Kombolcha on Monday, terrified residents reported, after the rebels claimed to have taken over a second city in two days.

Reports of rebels capturing Kombolcha got here a day after they claimed management of Dessie and, if confirmed, would mark a serious advance by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) within the practically year-long struggle.

Much of northern Ethiopia is below a communications blackout, and entry for journalists is restricted, making battlefield claims tough to confirm independently.

Kombolcha residents described continuous gunfire in a single day and into the early hours on Monday, with some saying they heard what appeared like an air strike in town’s outskirts round midnight.

“The night was filled with many gunshots,” stated Mohammed, who like different locals declined to share his final title for security causes.

“I heard an air strike past midnight outside Kombolcha borders,” he added.

Hamdiu, a shopkeeper in Kombolcha, informed AFP he too heard what appeared like an air strike round midnight.

“Huge gunshots were heard until (this) morning”, he stated, because the rebels battled federal troops and native militias.

But a authorities spokeswoman on Monday informed AFP: “There were no air strikes in Kombolcha overnight.”

Over the previous two weeks, Ethiopia’s air pressure has carried out a string of aerial bombardments in Tigray.

Control of the skies, together with superior manpower, is likely one of the few remaining areas the place the federal government holds a army benefit over the rebels.

– ‘Deadly siege’ –

Meanwhile the federal government Monday accused the TPLF of getting “summarily executed more than 100 youth residents of Kombolcha”, however offered no particulars concerning the killings.

As of September, Amhara authorities estimated that at the least 233,000 individuals fleeing the insurgent advance had discovered refuge in Dessie and Kombolcha.

The battle has alarmed the worldwide neighborhood, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken calling for a direct halt to army operations.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has urged Ethiopians to make use of “any type of weapons… to block the destructive TPLF, to overturn it and bury it”.

“Dying for Ethiopia is a duty (for) all of us,” he stated.

The Amhara administration on Sunday ordered all authorities establishments to droop common providers and divert their budgets to “the survival campaign”.

The battle erupted final November when Mr. Abiy deployed troops in Tigray, with the operation spiralling into a chronic struggle marked by massacres, mass rapes and a humanitarian disaster.

The battle has pushed an estimated 400,000 individuals to the brink of famine, with Tigray below a de facto support blockade, in keeping with the UN.

Mr. Abiy, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019, stated the operation was in response to assaults on military camps by the TPLF.

He vowed a swift victory, however by late June the rebels had regrouped and retaken most of Tigray, together with the capital Mekele, and combating unfold to the neighbouring areas of Amhara and Afar.

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