The Ethiopian army has regained control of the town Chifra in Afar from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) forces, according to the state-run broadcaster, reported Aljazeera.
“Ethiopian Defense Forces and Afar Special Forces have controlled Chifra,” the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation said on its Twitter account on Sunday, without providing further details.
The TPLF forces had captured Chifra, which is located on the border between the northern Afar and Amhara regions, after fighting with the Ethiopian troops intensified last month. Chifra is located to the west of Mille town and lies along the highway linking Ethiopia to Djibouti, the Horn of Africa’s main port.
The seizure comes after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said last week that he would head to the front lines to lead federal troops against Tigrayan fighters. The Nobel Peace Prize-winning Ethiopian president implied that the country’s very existence was at stake. Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen Hassen has been given charge of the government.
A year of fighting between Ethiopian National Defence Forces and forces loyal to the TPLF and other rebel groups has caused a humanitarian crisis and killed thousands of innocent people, while displacing more than 2 million people, according to the United Nations.
In related news, On Saturday, the US State Department said Secretary of State Antony Blinken was concerned about escalating violence in Ethiopia and called for negotiations to address the crisis there.
In a statement, the US State Department spokesman Ned Price said Secretary Blinken had expressed grave concern about signs of military escalation in Ethiopia and emphasized the urgent need for negotiation.
The statement was released after Blinken had a telephonic conversation with Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Notably, the Tigrayan rebel forces have reported major territorial gains recently as it seized an Ethiopian town just 220km (135 miles) from the capital, Addis Ababa.