TPLF 'seize key town' in Ethiopia war

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Tigrayan forces say they have seized the strategic town of Dessie in Ethiopia's Amhara region where tens of thousands of ethnic Amharas have sought refuge from an escalation in fighting.

The fighters pushed Ethiopian government forces from Dessie and were headed towards the town of Kombolcha, Getachew Reda, a spokesman for the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), told Reuters on Friday.

He said Tigrayan forces had captured numerous Ethiopian soldiers.

Legesse Tulu, the Ethiopian government spokesman, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Reuters could not independently verify the TPLF's account of developments.

The capture of Dessie would be a strategic gain for the Tigrayan fighters against the central government forces who are trying to dislodge them from the Amhara region.

The large town is some 385km from the capital Addis Ababa and is the furthest south in Amhara the TPLF has reached since pushing into the region in July.

War broke out nearly a year ago between federal troops and the TPLF, which had ruled Ethiopia for three decades but is now the ruling party of just the region.

Thousands have been killed more than two million people have been forced to flee.

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

In mid-October, the Tigrayan forces said the military had launched a ground offensive to push them out of Amhara.

The military acknowledged on Thursday there had been heavy fighting in the region, but accused the Tigrayans of starting it.

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