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Ethiopia PM reaches front line to fight rebels

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed speaks at a final campaign rally at a stadium in the town of Jimma in the southwestern Oromia Region of Ethiopia, on June 16, 2021. (AP Photo/ Mulugeta Ayene, File)
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed speaks at a final campaign rally at a stadium in the town of Jimma in the southwestern Oromia Region of Ethiopia, on June 16, 2021. (AP Photo/ Mulugeta Ayene, File)

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has arrived at the front line where government forces are battling rebels from the northernmost Tigray region, state-affiliated media says.

International alarm has mounted over the escalating year-long conflict, prompting foreign governments to tell their citizens to leave amid fears the Tigrayan rebels could march on the capital Addis Ababa.

Abiy, winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, “is now leading the counter-offensive” and “has been giving leadership from the battlefield as of yesterday,” Fana Broadcasting Corporate reports.

Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen is handling “regular activities,” the report said.

It was not clear where exactly Abiy, a former radio operator in the military who rose to lieutenant-colonel, had deployed, and state media does not broadcast images of him in the field.

Officials have not responded to requests for details about his mission and whereabouts.

The fighting in the north of Africa’s second most populous country has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands into famine-like conditions, according to UN estimates.

Foreign envoys have been frantically pushing for a ceasefire, though there have been few signs a breakthrough is coming.

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