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Two-time Olympic gold medallist Haile Gebrselassie has announced he is enlisting in the Ethiopian military to fight an insurgency that threatens the capital, Addis Ababa.

Gebrselassie, who set 27 long-distance running records, told Reuters he was joining up on Wednesday. The Olympic silver medallist runner Feyisa Lilesa would also enlist, local media reported.

International alarm has grown over the escalating war in Ethiopia as Tigrayan rebels edge closer to Addis Ababa. On Wednesday, Switzerland and Britain advised their citizens to leave Ethiopia, citing the worsening security situation. France and the US have already called on citizens to leave.

Britain’s minister for Africa, Vicky Ford, said the conflict was deteriorating quickly. “In the coming days we may see the fighting move closer to Addis Ababa, which could severely limit options for British nationals to leave Ethiopia,” she said.

The country’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, has gone to direct the war from the frontlines, state-affiliated media reported. His government has described the conflict as an “existential war”.

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