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Ethiopia recruits civilian volunteers to defend capital from Tigrayan fighters

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Ethiopia has recruited the help of civilian volunteers to defend its capital, Addis Ababa, from the advancing Tigrayan fighters of the northern Tigray region.

Thousands of volunteers were seen clapping and cheering as they chanted the name of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed when they marched through a school playing field in Addis Ababa. They were trained only for two days to prepare them for the fights.

“Ethiopia will prevail,” Addis Ababa city council speaker Buzena Abdulkadir said. “They are very small in number, we have too many people for them. We are one, we are united, and we take Ethiopia forward together.”

The battle between Ethiopia’s military and Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) combatants is approaching the city. The year-long conflict has claimed the lives of thousands.

A group who call themselves citizen officers could be seen constantly on the lookout for members of the TPLF. Community organiser and citizen officer Mesfin Zerfu told Sky News he found TPLF “sympathisers and members” hiding inside a house.

“Yes, we found sympathisers and members of the TPLF, we found them hiding in a house together. All of them were taken into custody,” Mr Zerfu answered when asked whether he had found any members of the TPLF.

Tigrayans once dominated Ethiopia’s government until the current prime minister assumed office in 2018 and declared the TPLF a terrorist group. The group have now joined forces with another armed group, the Oromo Liberation Army, to pressure him to step down.

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