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Ethiopia: army advances in Amhara - authorities

Ethiopia: army advances in Amhara -  authorities
Members of the Ethiopian National Defence Force hold national flags.   -  
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AP/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved.


The Ethiopian army was regaining ground on Wednesday against militias in the Amhara region, according to residents interviewed by AFP, after the local government on Tuesday evening spoke of a return to "relative peace".

The national airline Ethiopian Arlines announced that it would resume flights to the regional capital Bahir Dar and Gondar on Thursday. Services to the other two airports, Lalibela and Dessie, remain suspended.

Amhara, a region in northern Ethiopia, has been under a state of emergency since Friday due to the deadly clashes taking place there, only nine months after the end of a devastating conflict in the neighboring Tigray region.

Amhara forces, including the nationalist Fano militia, were key allies of the government during this war between November 2020 and November 2022.

But tensions have emerged since April after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced his intention to disband the "special forces", paramilitary units created by many regional states over the past fifteen years. Amhara nationalists believe that the government wants to weaken their region.

After several days of clashes, federal forces appear to be regaining ground in several parts of the region.

In a statement issued on Tuesday evening, the Amhara government claimed that "relative peace and stability" had returned, maintaining that the army had taken "appropriate action" against "extremist groups".

Residents contacted by AFP on Wednesday said Fano fighters had been pushed back in Gondar and Lalibela, a Unesco World Heritage site famous for its ancient rock-hewn churches.

"Things seem to be changing today," said Gondar tuktuk driver Simachew: "The ENDF (army) has taken control of most parts of the city after heavy fighting in recent days."

"The engagement has been supported by tanks and armored vehicles, which are still in the city", he continued, claiming that "the Fano have been pushed back into just one area of the city", where fighting is "still ongoing".

In Lalibela, "the Fano have left the town and are in the forest", said Ayalew, a local resident, adding that there was no movement in the town. "We can only hear the sound of heavy artillery fire", he added.

With access to the area restricted, it is not possible to independently verify the situation on the ground.

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