Addis Ababa, Nov 4 (efe-epa).- Ethiopia’s prime minister Abiy Ahmed on Wednesday ordered a military offensive against the regional authorities in the Tigray region on the border of Eritrea after blaming them for an attack on an Ethiopian army base.
Abiy said the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, which governs in the region, had attempted to attack the camp and “rob the northern command of military equipment and artillery”.
The alleged assault has not been independently verified.
Abiy, the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner for his role in a peace deal with neighboring Eritrea, said the TPLF had armed and organized irregular and unlawful militias and accused them of inciting violence.
“While the Federal government has used all means to thwart military engagement against the TPLF (…) the last red line has been crossed with this morning’s attacks and the Federal government is therefore forced into a military confrontation,” a statement from the prime minister said.
Following the announcement, the central government declared a state of emergency in the Tigray region, Ethiopia’s northernmost territory which is in the hands of political opposition.
Amid simmering tensions in the nation, the embassies of the United States and the United Kingdom in Addis Ababa called for calm in Tigray and for authorities on both sides to guarantee security for civilians.
TPLF chairman Debretsion Gebremichael on Monday said the central government was planning an attack in response to regional parliamentary elections in September this year, which Abiy considered to be illegal.
The central government had postponed elections across the country due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Abiy has repeatedly warned authorities in the region — which is home to around five percent of Ethiopia’s 109 million inhabitants — to return to constitutional order.