Ethiopia Urges Residents of Capital City to Arm Themselves
Ethiopia’s government urged residents of its capital to arm themselves and protect their neighborhoods, after rebel fighters in the north of the country captured two key towns on a main route into the city.
The call came as the U.S. expressed alarm at the situation in Ethiopia, which on Wednesday marks a year since conflict erupted in the Horn of Africa nation.
Authorities in Addis Ababa gave residents two days to register any firearms that they own, Kenea Yadeta of the city’s peace and security administration bureau told reporters in a briefing aired by broadcaster Fana TV on Tuesday. Plans are under way to conduct raids and searches of hotels, houses and people deemed to be a security threat, he said.
“Individuals with personal arms, legal arms, are expected to protect their neighborhoods in an organized manner,” Kenea said. Older or infirm people should provide weapons to family members or neighbors, he said.
The capital of Africa’s second-most populous nation is a regional diplomatic center, hosting the headquarters of the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. Addis Ababa is also an aviation hub used by Ethiopian Airlines to fly travelers to destinations within Africa and to North America, Asia and the Middle East.
The announcement by the Addis Ababa authorities came two days after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed urged Ethiopians to use “any type of weapon” to reverse advances made by the Tigray People’s Liberation Forces, after they captured the towns of Dessie and Kombolcha at the weekend.
READ: Tigray Fighters Capture Town on Key Ethiopian Trade Route
The situation in Ethiopia is “dire” and deteriorating, Jeffrey Feltman, the U.S. special envoy to the Horn of Africa, told reporters on a conference call on Tuesday.
“Without question the situation is getting worse and we are frankly alarmed by the situation,” he said. “The parties do not seem anywhere near to the point of agreeing to deescalate a negotiated ceasefire and some kind of talks.”
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