Nationwide state of emergency declared in Ethiopia as Tigray rebels advance
Ethiopia has declared a state of emergency after rebels from the northern region of Tigray said they were gaining territory and considering marching on the capital Addis Ababa.
The move on Tuesday came after rebels from the northern Tigray region said they had captured the strategic towns of Dessie and Kombolcha in the Amhara region. The northern fighters, who have been fighting federal government forces for a year, indicated they might advance further south, on the capital, Addis Ababa.
The government said soldiers were still battling for control.The announcement on state-affiliated media came two days after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed urged citizens to take up arms to defend themselves from the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF).
Ethiopia last imposed such a measure in February 2018 for six months ahead of the transition of power to Abiy. Curfews were enforced and people's movements restricted, while thousands of people were detained.
The city administration said people should register their weapons and gather in their neighborhoods. House-to-house searches were being conducted and troublemakers arrested, a statement said.
"Residents can gather in their locality and safeguard their surroundings," it said. "Those who have weapons but can't take part in safeguarding their surroundings are advised to handover the weapon to the government or their close relatives or friends."
Prior to the announcement, people moved around the capital as normal.
"I will try to buy food commodities in advance. But so far I haven't yet purchased anything," said one woman, who asked not to be named.
The governments of four of the country's 10 regions also called upon Ethiopians to mobilize to fight against the Tigrayan forces, state-affiliated Fana TV said.
The conflict started over the night of Nov. 3, 2020, when forces loyal to the TPLF - including some soldiers - seized military bases in Tigray, a northern region. In response, Abiy sent more troops there.