TIGRAY – Rebellious Tigrayan forces say they have seized the strategic town of Dessie in Ethiopia’s Amhara region, where thousands of ethnic Amharas have sought refuge from escalating violence.
The Tigray People’s Liberation Front’s spokesperson Getachew Reda told Reuters their fighters pushed government forces from Dessie on Saturday (October 30) and were heading towards Kombolcha in north-central Ethiopia.
Seizing Dessie, some 240 miles from the capital Addis Ababa, would be a strategic gain for Tigrayan fighters against central government forces, who are trying to dislodge them from the region.
The TPLF’s spokesperson also said forces had captured many Ethiopian soldiers.
Reuters has been unable to independently verify the TPLF’s account of developments and phone lines in Dessie appeared to be down as of Saturday afternoon.
Reports from residents state the Ethiopian Army had retreated and that power has been off since Friday (October 29).
Dessie is the furthest south in Amhara that the TPLF have reached since pushing into the region in July. In mid-October, the Tigrayan forces said the military had launched a ground offensive to push them out of Amhara.
War broke out nearly a year ago between federal troops and the TPLF.
Since then, thousands have been killed and more than 2 million people forced to flee.
The government spokesperson, the mayor of Dessie and a spokesperson for the town did not respond to requests for comment.