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Saturday, September 30, 2023

Fighting escalates in Ethiopia’s Amhara region

Fighting has continued to intensify and spread in Ethiopia’s restive Amhara region between local militias and the military.

Residents in the region’s two biggest cities, the capital Bahir Dar and historic Gondar, have reported intense clashes.

Activists and media outlets affiliated with the militias claim that they have gained control of parts of Bahir Dar, but say there is heavy military presence around the city’s airport and the state-run TV station.

Fighting escalates in Ethiopia's Amhara regionFlights to airports in the region, including the one at Lalibela, home to the famous rock-hewn churches, remain suspended.

The militias also say they control additional towns including large parts of Debre Birhan, an industrial hub 130km (80 miles) north of the federal capital, Addis Ababa.

The claims have not been independently confirmed but residents reported heavy fighting.

On Sunday, the head of a command post established to oversee a state of emergency decree passed on Friday, intelligence chief Temesgen Tiruneh, admitted the militias had taken control of some areas and called on the public to support the military.

Meanwhile in Addis Ababa arrests have been reported over the weekend.

Activists accuse the government of targeting ethnic Amharas and put the number of arrests in the thousands.

Many families of detainees were seen gathered around a high school compound where they said their loved ones were being held.

In a statement, Communications Minister Legesse Tulu confirmed arrests were made in connection with the violence but failed to provide figures.

Among those held is an opposition MP, Christian Tadele.

Last week in a Facebook post, Mr Christian had accused Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s administration of invading the Amhara region.

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