aljazeera.com
News
Ethiopian gov’t forces in control of Chifra: State media
Dead bodies seen ‘everywhere on the streets’ of town in Afar region as Al Jazeera gains exclusive access to front line of escalating conflict.
Ethiopian soldiers seen during a training session in November [File: Amanuel Sileshi/AFP]
28 Nov 2021
Ethiopia’s state-run broadcaster has said government forces were in control of the town of Chifra in Afar region, their first major seizure since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said earlier this week he would head to the front lines to lead federal troops against fighters from the northern Tigray region.
Tens of thousands of people have died and millions displaced since the war between Ethiopian federal and allied troops, and the Tigrayan forces, broke out in November 2020. The conflict has also caused a massive humanitarian crisis, with hundreds of thousands of people facing famine.
The Tigrayan forces captured Chifra, on the border between the northern Afar and Amhara regions, after fighting intensified last month.
“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.
There was no immediate comment by the Tigrayan forces.
‘Dead bodies everywhere’
Much of northern Ethiopia is under a communications blackout and access for journalists is heavily restricted, making battlefield claims difficult to corroborate. Al Jazeera, however, was able to gain exclusive access to Chifra, the first international news organisation to do so.
Reporting from “the heart” of the town, Al Jazeera Arabic’s correspondent Mohammed Taha Tewekel said the Tigrayan forces “were driven out of this strategic area” by pro-government militia from the Afar region, but also noted “gunfire could be heard from all directions” for hours.
“It [Chifra] has been the epicentre of military operations during the past 40 days,” Tewekel said during a live broadcast, with gunfire ringing in the background.
“The scenes we witnessed are very appalling. Dead bodies everywhere on the streets. It is living proof of the ferociousness of the fighting. There are clear signs of the lack of humanity in this conflict. The town’s commercial shops were totally destroyed, even the mosques were not spared. All the residents have fled for their lives and the town has turned into military barracks for the Afari fighters,” he added.
The Afari fighters “have seized the city” and are now advancing towards the towns of Bati and Kombolcha, the correspondent said.
Chifra is west of the town of Mille, which Tigrayan forces have been trying to capture for weeks, because it lies along the highway linking landlocked Ethiopia to Djibouti, the Horn of Africa’s main port.
State-affiliated Fana Broadcasting reported on Friday that Abiy was on the front line with the army fighting the Tigrayan forces in Afar.
“The morale of the army is very exciting,” he said in the remarks broadcast on Friday, promising to capture Chifra “today”.
After months of tension, Abiy in November 2020 sent troops to Tigray to remove the region’s governing party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in response to what the government said was an attack on federal army camps. The TPLF, which dominated the federal government for nearly three decades until Abiy took office in 2018, said federal forces and its allies launched a “coordinated attack” against it.
The prime minister promised a swift victory and government forces seized Tigray’s capital, Mekelle, in late November. By June, however, the Tigrayan forces had retaken most of the region and pushed into the neighbouring Amhara and Afar regions.
The Tigrayan forces recently reported major territorial gains, claiming this week to have seized a town just 220km (135 miles) from the capital, Addis Ababa.
International alarm about the escalating conflict has deepened, with several foreign countries urging their citizens to leave as mediation attempts by the United Nations and the United States have so far failed to yield any results.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES
RELATED
OPINION
Can Ethiopia avert deep­en­ing tur­moil and pri­ori­tise peace?
To achieve peace, both sides in Ethiopia’s con­flict will need to ac­cept some dif­fi­cult truths.
Ahmed Soli­man
25 Nov 2021
UN chief calls for im­me­di­ate end to fight­ing in Ethiopia
Call comes as Prime Min­is­ter Abiy Ahmed re­port­ed to be on the front lines and men flock­ing to join mil­i­tary.
25 Nov 2021
UAE air bridge pro­vides mil­i­tary sup­port to Ethiopia gov’t
Al Jazeera in­ves­ti­ga­tion finds the UAE is pro­vid­ing ex­ten­sive sup­port to Ethiopi­an army in fight against Tigray forces.
25 Nov 2021
MORE FROM NEWS
India’s COVID cases hit 8-month high, experts say peak weeks away
‘Revenge’: Israel demolishes Palestinian home in Sheikh Jarrah
In Pictures: Waves from Tonga eruption cause oil spill in Peru
UAE calls for UNSC meeting as coalition renews Yemen air raids
MOST READ
As Ukraine crisis deepens, Blinken leads new talks
Iran’s Raisi says Moscow visit ‘turning point’ in bilateral ties
Sri Lanka’s dilemma: Pay off debt or pay for milk, meds and gas
Afghan acting PM calls for diplomatic recognition of Taliban
Follow Al Jazeera English:
© 2022 Al Jazeera Media Network
 
You rely on Al Jazeera for truth and transparency
We understand that your online privacy is very important and consenting to our collection of some personal information takes great trust. We ask for this consent because it allows Al Jazeera to provide an experience that truly gives a voice to the voiceless. You have the option to decline the cookies we automatically place on your browser but allowing Al Jazeera and our trusted partners to use cookies or similar technologies helps us improve our content and offerings to you. You can change your privacy preferences at any time by selecting ‘Cookie preferences’ at the bottom of your screen.To learn more, please view our Cookie Policy.