Ethiopian army claims a victory against Tigray rebels

Capture of Chifra town comes after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed visited the front line

Prime Minister of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed arrives for the Meskel Square inauguration in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. AFP

Ethiopia's army recaptured a northern town from Tigrayan rebels in its first major gain since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed appeared on the front line on Friday.

The state-run broadcaster said the army had retaken the town of Chifra, on the border between the northern Afar and Amhara region.

"Ethiopian Defence Forces and Afar Special Forces have controlled Chifra," the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation said on its Twitter account.

The Tigray People's Liberation Front captured Chifra after fighting against Ethiopian troops intensified last month.

Respective representatives for the government and the TPLF, Legesse Tulu and Getachew Reda, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Chifra lies west of the town of Mille, which Tigrayan forces have been trying to capture for weeks because it lies along the motorway linking landlocked Ethiopia to Djibouti, the Horn of Africa's main port.

State-affiliated Fana Broadcasting reported on Friday that Mr Abiy was on the front line while the army fought Tigrayan forces in Afar.

"The morale of the army is very exciting," he said in the remarks broadcast on Friday, when he promised to capture Chifra.

Mr Abiy's government last week banned anyone but officials from sharing information about the war, in which thousands of civilians have been killed and millions displaced since fighting erupted in Tigray last November.

"Disseminating information on military manoeuvres, war front updates and results via any medium is forbidden," the government's communication service said, the exception being for information provided by a joint civilian-military command set up to oversee a state of emergency.

Tigrayan forces were initially beaten back in the government offensive but they recaptured most of the region in July and pushed into neighbouring Amhara and Afar, displacing hundreds of thousands more people.

Updated: November 29th 2021, 11:24 AM