Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Friday made his first TV appearance from battlefield days after he joined the frontline.
The state-affiliated broadcaster FANA aired an Oromia Broadcasting Network footage showing Abiy clad in military uniforms.
“Yesterday we liberated Kasagitta and today we will recapture Chifra,” Abiy said standing at the Kasagitta front in the Afar region, where fierce fighting was fought for several weeks between government forces – allied with Afar special forces and militia – and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
Abiy announced Monday he would personally proceed to the front to lead the nation’s army in countering a group of rebels advancing towards the capital.
The announcement came in the face of intensified fighting between government forces and TPLF rebels who in recent months have gotten backing from the Oromo Liberation Army-Shene, both declared terrorist organizations by the Ethiopian parliament.
The Ethiopian government has announced new restrictions on reporting the war, in which Tigrayan rebels are said to be continuing their advance towards the capital.
In a warning to news outlets and social media users, it has banned the reporting of any military movements or updates from the battlefield – unless the information has been approved by the government.
The Ethiopian government has been fighting the TPLF forces since last November following the rebels’ attack on Ethiopian army bases stationed across Tigray, including the regional capital Mekelle, according to the government.
The TPLF has joined forces in an alliance with opposition groups to form a party against Abiy.
Meanwhile, TPLF spokesperson Getachew Reda said a drone attack by government forces hit the residential area on Friday. He, however, made no remarks about any casualties or the extent of the damage.
“Yet another drone attack on civilian neighborhood in #Mekelle. Desperate moves by a desperate regime teetering on the brink. #TigrayShallPrevail!” the spokesperson said on Twitter.
The Ethiopian government has not denied or confirmed the drone attack yet.
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