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Ethiopian government soldiers are being sent towards the front line of the conflict with Tigrayan insurgents, witnesses in northern Ethiopia have told the BBC.

A journalist from America’s NPR radio station in the town of Kombolcha, said the troops were accompanied by government-allied militias equipped with improvised weapons including machetes, axes and hoes.

They said they feared being killed by the Tigrayans if they failed to halt their advance.

The BBC cannot independently verify the account.

Kombolcha is also filled with desperate people fleeing Tigrayan-held areas, in some of which the UN says famine-like conditions have developed because of a government blockade.

A Tigrayan spokesman said the rebels were advancing to push back the enemy, but said they were still far from Kombolcha.

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