TPLF forces are patrolling the city, witnesses say, lower than two weeks after authorities forces claimed to have recaptured it.

Tigray rebels have recaptured the north Ethiopian city of Lalibela, Reuters and AFP information company have reported, citing native residents, lower than two weeks after authorities forces and their allies took management of the UNESCO World Heritage city.

Tigrayan fighters “are within the city centre, there’s no combating,” mentioned a resident reached by phone on Sunday afternoon.

“They got here again. They’re already right here,” mentioned one other.

Lalibela is dwelling to 11 medieval rock-cut church buildings and a website of pilgrimage for the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

The Tigray Folks’s Liberation Entrance (TPLF) insurgent group’s army management mentioned in a press release shared with pro-TPLF media they’d launched “widespread counter-offensives” in quite a few areas together with alongside the highway linking Gashena and Lalibela.

“Our forces first defended after which carried out counter-offensives towards the huge drive that was attacking the entrance at Gashena and the encompassing areas to attain an excellent victory,” it mentioned.

Authorities spokesperson Legesse Tulu didn’t reply to requests for touch upon the reported recapture of the city.

TPLF spokesperson Getachew Reda additionally didn’t reply to a telephone name in search of remark.

One of many witnesses who spoke to Reuters mentioned that particular forces from the Amhara area and their fighter allies, each allies of the Ethiopian authorities, started leaving Lalibela on Saturday evening.

“The final batch left this morning. We heard gunshots from a distance final evening however the Tigrayan forces recaptured Lalibela with out firing weapons within the city,” mentioned the witness, a lodge receptionist, by telephone.

Navy sources have advised Al Jazeera that pro-government forces are advancing in direction of town of Waldia – a stronghold of the TPLF.

Forces aligned with the TPLF had taken management of the city in early August.

However on December 1, Ethiopian troops and their Amhara regional allies recaptured the city.

That information was one in every of a variety of reported beneficial properties on the battlefield towards the Tigrayan forces, who had in November pushed south and threatened to march on Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.

The year-long battle between the federal authorities and the management of the northern area of Tigray has killed hundreds of civilians, compelled thousands and thousands to flee their properties, and made greater than 9 million individuals depending on meals assist.

A second witness advised Reuters on Sunday that residents had begun fleeing the city. “We panicked, we by no means noticed this coming. TPLF forces are actually patrolling the city carrying their uniforms,” the witness mentioned.