Ethiopian government troops do not control Chifra: State media | news

Corpses seen “all over the streets” of the city in the Afar region as Al Jazeera gains exclusive access to the front line of escalating conflict.

Ethiopia’s state broadcaster said government forces were in control of the city of Chifra in the Afar Tigray region.

Since the outbreak of war between Ethiopian federal and allied troops and the Tigrayan troops in November 2020, tens of thousands of people have died and millions displaced. The conflict has also created a massive humanitarian crisis in which hundreds of thousands are threatened with famine.

Tigrayan forces captured Chifra on the border between the northern regions of Afar and Amhara after fighting intensified last month.

“The Ethiopian Defense Forces and Afar Special Forces have controlled Chifra,” said the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation on its Twitter account on Sunday, without giving any further details.

There was no immediate comment from the Tigrayan Forces.

“Corpses Everywhere”

Much of northern Ethiopia is closed and journalists’ access is severely restricted, making it difficult to corroborate allegations on the battlefield. However, Al Jazeera was given exclusive access to Chifra, the first international news organization to do so.

Al Jazeera Arabic correspondent Mohammed Taha Tewekel reported from the “heart” of the city, saying that Tigrayan troops had been “driven out of this strategic area” by pro-government militias in the Afar region, but also noted that “ Shots from everyone could be heard ”. Directions ”for hours.

“It [Chifra] has been the epicenter of military operations for the past 40 days, “said Tewekel during a live broadcast while gunfire rang out in the background.

“The scenes we saw are very terrifying. Corpses all over the streets. It is living proof of the cruelty of the fighting. There are clear indications of the lack of humanity in this conflict. The city’s commercial businesses were completely destroyed, and even the mosques were not spared. All residents have fled for their lives and the city has turned into a military barracks for the Afari fighters, ”he added.

The Afari fighters “have taken the city” and are now advancing towards the cities of Bati and Kombolcha, the correspondent said.

Chifra is west of the city of Mille, which has been captured by the Tigrayan troops for weeks because it is on the highway that connects the interior of Ethiopia with Djibouti, the most important port in the Horn of Africa.

The state broadcaster Fana reported on Friday that Abiy was on the front line with the army fighting against Tigrayan troops in Afar.

“The morale of the army is very exciting,” he said in the comment broadcast on Friday, promising to catch Chifra “today”.

After months of tension, Abiy sent troops to Tigray in November 2020 to remove the region’s ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). The TPLF dominated the federal government for almost three decades until Abiy took office in 2018.

The Prime Minister promised a quick victory, and in late November government forces took Tigray’s capital, Mekelle. By June, however, the Tigrayan forces had recaptured most of the region and had advanced into the neighboring regions of Amhara and Afar.

The Tigrayan forces recently reported large territorial gains, claiming they captured a city just 220 km (135 miles) from the capital, Addis Ababa, this week.

International concern about the escalating conflict has intensified. Several foreign countries urged their citizens to leave the country as mediation attempts by the United Nations and the United States have so far been unsuccessful.

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