Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, has urged his supporters to use any weapons they have to stop an advance by Tigrayan rebel forces.
Abiy said it was the duty of citizens to, “block, destroy and bury” the forces of the TPLF rebels.
He issued the appeal on Facebook after the rebels said they’d made further territorial gains in the Amhara region, taking them closer to the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
A TPLF spokesman, Getachew Reda, said they had captured Kombolcha city and that their only aim was to break a siege of Tigray.
The Ethiopian government has denied assertions by the TPLF rebels that they’ve seized Kombolcha and nearby Dessie in the Amhara region.
It came as a spokesman of the rebel Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) also said they had taken Kemise city – about 50km (33 miles) from Kombolcha and 325km from Addis Ababa – and were fighting with government forces.
Communications with the Tigray region are largely blocked and desperately needed aid hasn’t been getting through.
The United Nations estimates that 400,000 people in the region are living in famine-like conditions, a year after the conflict began.
Meanwhile the United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the US is alarmed by reports that Tigrayan rebel forces have taken over two key Ethiopian towns of Dessie and Kombolcha.
“Continued fighting prolongs the dire humanitarian crisis in northern Ethiopia,” he says in a statement on Twitter, urging all parties to stop military operations
Thousands have been killed, many more face famine conditions and millions have been displaced by the continued fighting since November last year.