Rebel forces in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region have retaken its capital, Mekelle, sparking street celebrations and forcing officials to flee.
Residents reported scenes of joy, with fireworks and thousands waving flags.
The government, which took Mekelle in November after Tigrayan rebels rejected political reforms and captured army bases, has now called a “humanitarian ceasefire” in the region.
The fighting has left thousands dead and has pushed 350,000 towards famine.
More than two million people have been displaced.There had a recent upsurge in fighting between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and government forces outside Mekelle.
A rapid offensive led to the unexpected recapture of the city by the rebels on Monday.
A statement released by what was termed the Government of the National State of Tigray praised a “stunning victory”, saying Mekelle was “now under the complete control of the Tigray Defence Forces”.
It calls on rebel forces “to stay vigilant, relentless and on constant alert until Tigray is fully free of all invading forces”.Rebel spokesman Getachew Reda told Reuters news agency that Tigrayan fighters would “destroy the enemy” by entering the neighbouring Amhara region as well as Eritrea – whose troops have been supporting the Ethiopian army.
“We have to ensure that the enemy, whether from the Eritrean side or Amhara side or Addis Ababa, doesn’t have the capability to threaten the security of our people anymore,” he said.