Asmara, the capital of the northern Ethiopian province of Eritrea, has been the centre of heavy fighting in recent days as Eritrean secessionists clashed with Ethiopian government troops.
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GV TRAVEL SHOT Through city past deserted buildings.
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Background: Asmara, the capital of the northern Ethiopian province of Eritrea, has been the centre of heavy fighting in recent days as Eritrean secessionists clashed with Ethiopian government troops.
Life in the city has virtually ground to a halt, with shops and offices closed, and electricity and water supplies cut off. Despite an official Government announcement that peace had been restored on Monday (3 February), guerrillas launched three attacks on Ethiopian army buildings early on Tuesday morning, and fresh fighting occurred later in the day.
The fighting in and around Asmara -- the heaviest since guerrilla operations began in 1962 -- has so far resulted in at least 70 deaths. Troops and secessionist forces have been engaged in running battles on the outskirts of the city since last Friday, and the Ethiopian Airforce conducted a series of bombing raids on suspected guerrilla strongholds around the city.
Secessionists are reported to have shot down two Ethiopian Airforce planes -- a jet fighter and a spotter plane -- as the violence flared again on Wednesday (5 February). Unconfirmed reports indicate that the guerrillas have also begun to mine the roads leading to the city.
An Ethiopian armoured force, including 52 tanks, 20 armoured vehicles and several troop carriers, resumed its advance on Asmara on Wednesday after being held up when secessionists blow up a bridge.
Evacuation has begun of foreign residents among Asmara's 18,000 population. Residents arriving in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa have reported that Asmara's churches and convents are crowded with people taking refuge from the continuing conflict.