Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has ordered a military offensive to subdue the authorities in Tigray state, following an alleged attack on an army base.
Prime Minister Abiy has accused the region’s ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), of launching the attack. The attack resulted in “many martyrs, injuries and property damage”, he said in a TV address.
The cabinet has declared a state of emergency in the region for six months.
“This situation has reached a level where it cannot be prevented and controlled through the regular law enforcement mechanisms,” a statement from the prime minister’s office said.
The authorities have also shut down electricity, telephone and internet services in Tigray. Abiy said that attackers “tried to loot” military assets during Wednesday morning’s attack, adding that “the last red line had been crossed” forcing the federal government into a military confrontation.
Abiy’s office also accused the TPLF of dressing its soldiers in uniforms resembling those of the army of neighboring Eritrea to “implicate the Eritrean government in false claims of aggression against the people of Tigray.”
Details of the attack could not be immediately verified.
Tensions between the government and TPLF, which used to be part of the governing coalition before falling out with Abiy, have escalated in recent months, with both sides accusing the other of plotting to use military force.
On Tuesday, the federal parliament proposed that the TPLF be designated as a “terrorist organization.”