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  • Tigray crisis

image copyrightAFPimage captionA tank damaged in fighting between Ethiopian government and Tigray forces pictured in March

The Ethiopian government has declared a ceasefire in the Tigray region – eight months after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops to oust its leadership.

The announcement came as witnesses reported anti-government troops in the streets of Tigray's capital, Mekelle.

All sides have been accused of carrying out mass killings and human rights violations.

More more than five million people are in urgent need of food aid, the UN says, with 350,000 facing famine.

On Monday, reports began to emerge that the Tigrayan fighters – who launched a new offensive last week – had forced the interim administration from Mekelle.

Getachew Reda, spokesperson for the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), told news agency Reuters the city was now under their control.

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A number of people in Mekelle have also told the BBC they are celebrating federal troops' departure. An unnamed source within the interim government told news agency AFP "everyone has left", while two eyewitnesses told Reuters Tigrayan soldiers were seen in Mekelle.

Ethiopia's government has yet to comment on report that its troops have been pulled out.

But the BBC's Tigrinya Service editor Teklemariam Bekit says people are out celebrating on the streets of Mekelle.

Residents also told the BBC that they had seen people celebrating and TPLF forces taking control of the streets and the airport.

During the day, the residents have seen Ethiopian military leaving the city and the city residents were tense.

Why is there fighting in Tigray?

Last November Ethiopia's government launched an offensive to oust the region's then ruling party, the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF).

The party had had a massive fallout with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed over political changes to the country's ethnically based federal system – though the TPLF's capture of military bases in Tigray was the catalyst for the invasion.

media captionEthiopia's Tigray crisis: 'The marks of the conflict can easily be seen'

Mr Abiy, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, declared that the conflict was over at the end of November, but fighting has continued.

Thousands of people have been killed. Tens of thousands have sought refuge in neighbouring Sudan.

All sides have been accused of numerous human rights abuses.

The TPLF has since joined forces with other groups in Tigray to form the Tigray Defence Forces.

Famine fears

On 10 June, the UN described a situation of famine in northern Ethiopia.

A UN-backed study found that 350,000 people were living in "severe crisis" in the war-torn Tigray region.

According to the assessment, the food situation in the region has reached the level of a "catastrophe", which it defines as starvation and death affecting small groups of people spread over large areas.

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The UN's World Food Programme (WFP), Food and Agriculture Organization and children's agency Unicef have all called for urgent action to address the crisis.

But the analysis was not endorsed by Ethiopia's government, which has denied that there is a famine in the country.