Prime Minister for Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed has ordered a military offensive, after an army base was taken over by forces loyal to the regional government of Tigray.
He leveled accusations against the region’s ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), of launching the attack.
The attack led to “many martyrs, injuries and property damage”, he disclosed in a TV address.
The cabinet has declared a state of emergency in the region for a period of six months.
The national authorities have also closed down the supply of electricity, telephone and internet services in Tigray.
Tensions between the government and TPLF, which used to be part of the governing coalition before falling out with Mr. Abiy, have intensified in recent months, with both sides accusing the other of plotting to use military force.
On Tuesday, the federal parliament proposed that the TPLF be designated as a “terrorist organisation.”
Mr Abiy announced that attackers “tried to loot” military assets during Wednesday morning’s attack, adding that “the last red line had been crossed” forcing the federal government into a military confrontation.
His office also accused the TPLF of dressing its soldiers in uniforms resembling those of the army of neighbouring Eritrea to “implicate the Eritrean government in false claims of aggression against the people of Tigray”.
“The national defence force that has been in the bunkers for the past 20 plus years defending its people and the country by paying heavy sacrifices with its blood and flesh, has been attacked, this evening in Mekelle and many other places, by traitors and the force they organised,” Mr Abiy disclosed in a TV address.
“The army has been attacked from behind by its own citizens and many have been martyred, wounded and properties destroyed,” he added.