Ethiopia’s federal government on Friday declared a state of emergency following days of clashes in the Amhara region between the military and local armed fighters.
“It was found necessary to declare a state of emergency as it had become difficult to control this outrageous activity based on the regular legal system,” a statement by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office said.
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It did not say whether the restriction applied only in Amhara or across the country.
Fighting that broke out across Ethiopia’s second most populous region earlier this week between the Fano militia and the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) has quickly become a security crisis.
Fano, a part-time militia with no formal command structure, backed federal troops in a two-year civil war in the neighbouring Tigray region that ended with a truce last November.
But the relationship has soured over what some in the region say is a disregard by the national government for Amhara’s security.
Fano fighters and ENDF troops clashed near Debre Tabor on Tuesday and Wednesday, a doctor at a hospital in the town and a police officer told Reuters news agency. Both asked not to be named for security reasons.
On Thursday, Amhara’s government requested additional help from federal authorities to reimpose order.
In a letter to Ethiopia’s prime minister, the regional authorities asked the government to take “appropriate measures” that the disturbances are “causing serious economic, social and humanitarian damage”.
The state of emergency allows, among other things, for roadblocks to be established, transport services to be disrupted, curfews to be imposed, and for the military to take over in certain areas.
Mobile internet remained down in the region, residents said. Ethiopian Airlines had cancelled flights to three of the four airports it flies to in Amhara, an airline spokesperson told Reuters news agency.