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Ethiopia Declares State Of Emergency After Tigrayan Rebels Moves

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PM urges citizens to arm themselves as US clears way for further economic sanctions, Move comes after Tigrayan fighters said they had captured two strategic towns in Amhara region and considered marching on Addis Ababa.

Joe Biden accused the government of “gross violations of internationally recognised human rights” and said he that he was removing Ethiopia from a key US trade program, clearing the way for further economic sanctions over its failure to end the nearly year-long conflict.

“The state of emergency is aimed to protect civilians from atrocities being committed by the terrorist TPLF group in several parts of the country,” Fana reported on Tuesday, referring to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.

The six-month 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. Anyone suspected of having links with “terrorist” groups could also be detained without a court warrant.

“Our country is facing a grave danger to its existence, sovereignty and unity. And we can’t dispel this danger through the usual law enforcement systems and procedures,” Justice Minister Gedion Timothewos told a state media briefing.

He said anyone violating the emergency would face three to 10 years in prison, for offences such as providing financial, material or moral support to “terrorist groups”.

The move came after fighters from the northern Tigray region said in recent days they had captured the strategic towns of Dessie and Kombolcha in the neighbouring Amhara region. The Tigrayan fighters, who have been fighting federal government forces for a year, also indicated they might advance further south, on the capital, Addis Ababa.

The government said soldiers were still battling for control for the two key towns, some 400km (250 miles) from Addis Ababa.

Much of northern Ethiopia is under a communications blackout and access for journalists is restricted, making battlefield claims difficult to verify independently.

Earlier on Tuesday, authorities in Addis Ababa told residents to register their weapons in the next two days and prepare to defend the city.

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