Tigrayan forces claim control of two cities on road to Ethiopia’s capital

Ethiopia’s prime minister has called on his supporters to redouble their efforts in the country’s war, as rival Tigray forces claimed to have seized key cities on a main road towards the capital.

A move on the capital, Addis Ababa, would signal a new phase in the conflict, which has killed thousands of people since the fighting broke out almost a year ago between Ethiopian government troops and Tigray forces in the country’s northern region.

総理大臣, Abiy Ahmed, said in a statement on Sunday that federal troops were fighting on four fronts against the Tigray forces and that “we should know that our enemy’s main strength is our weakness and unpreparedness”.

月曜日に, the prime minister’s spokesperson, Billene Seyoum, did not immediately respond to a question about the leader’s whereabouts or travel plans.

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) said over the weekend that it was poised to physically link up with another armed group, the Oromo Liberation Army, with which it struck an alliance earlier this year. The Tigray forces claim to control the key cities of Dessie and Kombolcha, though the federal government disputes this claim.

米国国務長官, アントニーブリンク, said on Monday he was alarmed by reports that Dessie and Kombolcha were in Tigrayan hands. “Continued fighting prolongs the dire humanitarian crisis in northern Ethiopia. All parties must stop military operations and begin ceasefire negotiations without preconditions," 彼は言った.

The capture of Kombolcha would be a strategic gain for the fighters against Ethiopia’s military and their allies. The large town is on a main road about 235 マイル (380km) from Addis Ababa, and is the farthest south in Amhara that the TPLF has reached since pushing into the region in July.

The fighting could reach the Oromo region that neighbours Addis Ababa. Ethnic Oromo once hailed Abiy as the country’s first Oromo prime minister, but discontent has since emerged with the jailing of outspoken ethnic leaders.

Also on Sunday, the government of the Amhara region, where fighting has been focused since Tigray forces retook much of their own region in June, ordered almost all government institutions to stop their regular activities and join the war effort. It also banned most activities in cities and towns after 8pm.

The Tigray forces say they are putting pressure on Ethiopia’s government to lift a months-long blockade on their region of about 6 百万人.

Tigray leaders long dominated the national government before Ahmed took office in 2018.