Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has returned to the frontline and announced more victories against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
In a statement, his office said the Ethiopian leader is resuming battle leadership as the country “continues to achieve crucial successes against the TPLF”, a former ruling party that is fighting the government.
“Ethiopian Forces led by the Prime Minister, who has headed to the front again, have captured the mountain chains of Zobel, strategic towns of Arjo, Fokisa, Boren…and cut through the main Woldia-Mekelle highway,” his office said in a tweet on Sunday.
“On the same front, forces have also taken control of strategic towns of Dire Roqana and Sodoma. On the Wuchalie front, joint Ethiopian forces have taken control of the Ambasel mountain chain and towns in the vicinity.”
His claims, however, could not be independently verified as journalists are barred from the frontline and there has been a communication blockade in much of the warzone.
Meanwhile, TPLF is fighting off accusations of looting. In a letter, the TPLF external office on Saturday rubbished claims that the group looted a WFP food stock warehouse in Kombolcha.
“Over the past days, we have seen media reports citing a brief statement from World Food Programme (WFP) that TPLF have looted food stock that have been stored in the city of Kombolcha,” TPLF said.
“While this baseless information claim has received undeserved coverage, the truth of the matter is no time during our stay at Kombolcha City did Tigray forces (take) aid meant for those in desperate need of emergency.”
TPLF was recently accused of summary executions of civilians that could add to the toll of atrocities in the conflict.
A detailed report released by Human Rights Watch on Friday revealed that TPLF carried out numerous civilian executions during past battles in the Tigray and Amhara regions.
WFP Ethiopia said recently that if it does not receive immediate funding, millions of people across the country will starve by the start of 2022 due to the impact of conflict, drought and poverty.
“Up to 3.3 million people will fall into acute hunger in the next three months due to the impact of severe drought in Ethiopia's Somali region,” WFP added.
The conflict, now in its 13th month, has plunged 9.4 million people "into a critical situation of food assistance" in the regions of Tigray, Afar and Amhara, according to the United Nations.
The UN estimates that 5.2 million people are in need of emergency food aid in Tigray, 534,000 in Afar and 3.7 million in Amhara.