Addis Ababa told to prepare for fight

·1-min read

Authorities in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa have called on residents to register weapons and prepare to defend their neighbourhoods after rebel forces from the northern region of Tigray said they were considering marching on the city.

House-to-house searches were being conducted and troublemakers arrested, a statement by the city administration carried by the Ethiopian News Agency said.

"Residents can gather in their locality and safeguard their surroundings," the statement said.

"Those who have weapons but can't take part in safeguarding their surroundings are advised to hand over the weapon to the government or their close relatives or friends."

Federal government spokesman Legesse Tulu did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The call comes after a Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) spokesman said Tigrayan forces took control of two cities - Dessie and Kombolcha - in the neighbouring region of Amhara, putting them about 380km north of the capital.

On Monday night, Tigrayan forces said they had linked up with fighters from an Oromo force also taking on the central government and said they were considering marching on the capital.

The Oromo are Ethiopia's biggest ethnic group. Many of their political leaders are currently in prison.

On Monday, the Ethiopian government accused Tigrayan forces of killing 100 youths in the town of Kombolcha. The TPLF denied the allegation.

Tigrayan forces have been fighting the government for the past year in a widening war that first pitted federal troops against the TPLF, which dominated Ethiopian politics for nearly 30 years before Abiy Ahmed was appointed prime minister in 2018.

The conflict has plunged around 400,000 people in Tigray into famine, killed thousands of civilians and forced more than 2.5 million people in northern Ethiopia to flee their homes.

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