The Ethiopian government on Friday announced the military has successfully captured two towns from rebel forces in the northern Tigray region, reported Reuters.
According to a government statement, the Ethiopian troops have captured the towns of Axum and Adwa.
On Friday, Tigrayan fighters fired rockets at the distant capital of the neighboring Amhara region, raising worries that the two-week-old conflict between the Tigrayan rebels and the central government could spill into a wider war. The attack came a day after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said the country’s forces were closing in on Mekelle, the regional capital of Tigray and home to about half a million people.
Prime Minister Abiy, last year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner, launched a military campaign in the Tigray region earlier this month with the aim of unseating its ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
Hundreds of people have already been killed in the conflict, while tens of thousands have fled to neighboring Sudan to escape from the ongoing fighting and air strikes.
The United Nations meanwhile said it was planning for the possible arrival of as many as 200,000 refugees in Sudan fleeing violence in Ethiopia over a six-month period.
“Together with all the agencies we have built a response plan for about 20,000 people and currently we are at about 31,000 so it has already surpassed that figure,” Axel Bisschop, a UN refugee agency official, told a Geneva briefing. “The new planning figure is around 200,000.”
The call for peace by international organizations and foreign countries has escalated along with the fighting.
On Thursday, the officials from the United States said they had urged de-escalation from both Abiy and the TPLF leadership, but they can’t see any prospect for negotiations.
“At this point, neither party, from everything we hear, is interested in mediation,” said Tibor Nagy, the top US diplomat for Africa.