ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AFP) — Ethiopia’s government said Monday it had recaptured two strategic towns from rebel fighters, the latest in a rapid series of battlefield victories claimed by forces loyal to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
The announcement marks another dramatic twist in the 13-month-old conflict that has killed thousands of people and triggered a deep humanitarian crisis in the north of Africa’s second most populous nation.
The government’s communications service said on Twitter that Dessie and Kombolcha had been “freed by the joint gallant security forces” that had also taken control of several other towns on the eastern front.
The two cities, which lie in the Amhara region on a highway about 400 kilometers by road northeast of the capital Addis Ababa, were reportedly taken by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) at the end of October.
Their capture had sparked fears that the TPLF and its ally, the Oromo Liberation Army, would march on the capital, leading alarmed foreign governments to urge their citizens to leave the country as soon as possible.
The state-run Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation quoted Abiy as saying the rebels had sustained “heavy losses and (were) unable to cope with the strike by allied forces.”