Ethiopia declares state of emergency as rebels advance towards the capital

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Ethiopia declares state of emergency as rebels advance towards the capital.

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Ethiopia has declared a state of emergency on and called on its citizens to pick up arms and prepare to defend the capital as rebel forces from the northern region of Tigray pressed south toward the city following the capture of two key towns.

The Tigrayans, who have been fighting the government for the past year, have joined forces with another rebel group as they advance on the capital, Addis Ababa. Foreign officials monitoring the fighting said there were signs that several Ethiopian Army units had collapsed or retreated.

The state of emergency reflected the rapidly changing tide in a metastasizing war that threatens to tear apart Ethiopia, Africa’s second-most populous country.

The Ethiopian military first suffered a major defeat in June when it was forced to withdraw from Tigray, and several thousand of its soldiers were taken captive. Now the fighting is rapidly moving south wards towards the capital.

In recent days, Tigrayan rebels took the towns of Dessie and Kombolcha, just 160 miles to the northeast of the capital. A United Nations official said the Tigrayan forces were seen moving further south from Kombolcha on Tuesday.

The announcements added to a growing sense of trepidation in the city, where tensions have been building for days as news filtered in of Tigrayan military advances.

The deteriorating situation in Ethiopia has sent alarm across the region, with fears that the fighting could spill into neighboring countries such as Kenya, or send waves of refugees across borders.

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