Ethiopian citizens, foreigners and diplomats are reportedly fleeing Addis Ababa as rebel forces close in on the country’s capital.

It was learnt that Tigray fighters and Oromo rebels have surrounded the capital.

Ethiopia had earlier declared a state of emergency after the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a rebel group, said they were gaining territory and considering marching into Addis Ababa, the country’s capital, according to Addis Standard.

The six-month state of emergency was declared on Tuesday after the TPLF, a former dominant member of Ethiopia’s ruling coalition, claimed to have captured several towns and said it might march into the capital.

Fana Broadcasting, a state-owned media outfit, said the council of ministers declared the state of emergency “to protect civilians from atrocities being committed by the terrorist TPLF group in several parts of the country”.

Gedion Timothewos, minister of justice, has said that 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”, during a state media briefing.

“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,” Timothewos said.

The Addis Ababa city administration, in a statement, also asked residents to register their weapons and “safeguard their surroundings”.

“Residents can gather in their locality and safeguard their surroundings. Those who have weapons but can’t take part in safeguarding their surroundings are advised to hand over their weapons to the government or their close relatives or friends,” the statement reads.

The development comes two days after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed asked residents of the country to arm themselves against the TPLF.

 

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