Ethiopian Olympic heroes Haile Gebrselassie and Feyisa Lilesa say they are prepared to go to the front line and fight in their country’s escalating civil war against rebel forces.
Gebrselassie’s comments came after the prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, announced on Monday his intention to personally lead troops “from the battlefront” as rebels from the country’s northern Tigray region inched closer to the capital, Addis Ababa.
“I am ready to do whatever is required of me, including going to the front line,” state media quoted Gebrselassie, 48, as saying.
Gebrselassie also hit out at alleged foreign “intervention” in Ethiopia, where reports of human-rights abuses including massacres, looting and mass rape committed during the conflict have drawn international condemnation.
“The agenda set to destabilise Ethiopia is supported by the media.”
Their announcement comes after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said he would go to the front to lead the war.
Tigrayan rebels say they are advancing towards the capital Addis Ababa.
The UK has urged its nationals to leave Ethiopia immediately, saying the fighting may move closer to Addis Ababa in the coming days.
The rebels earlier this week said that they had taken control of Shewa Robit, a town about 225km (140 miles) north-east of Addis Ababa. There is no independent confirmation of the claim.
Communication Minister Legese Tulu said the military has had “many successes” since Mr Abiy’s decision to lead the battle, and victory was “so close”.
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