Ethiopia’s Amhara state on Sunday called on “all young people” to take up arms against Tigrayan fighters who are battling the federal government military and forces from all of Ethiopia’s other nine regions.
The call for mass mobilisation against Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) fighters – who Amhara's military said were now attacking the state – expands the eight-month-old war and instability in the Horn of Africa country.
"I call on all young people, militia, non-militia in the region, armed with any government weapon, armed with personal weapons, to join the anti-TPLF war mission from tomorrow," Agegnehu Teshager, president of Amhara regional government, was quoted as saying by the region's state media.
Attempts to contact TPLF spokesman Getachew Reda for comment were unsuccessful.
War erupted between the Ethiopian military and the TPLF, which rules Ethiopia’s northernmost region, in November.
Three weeks later, the government declared victory when it captured Tigray’s capital Mekelle, but the TPLF kept fighting. At the end of June, the TPLF seized back control of Mekelle and most of Tigray after government soldiers withdrew.
Last week the Tigrayans pushed their offensive to Afar, their neighbouring state to the east, where they said they planned to target troops from the Amhara region fighting alongside the federal military in the area.
Afar is a strategic region for landlocked Ethiopia because the main road and railway linking the capital, Addis Ababa, with the sea port of Djibouti runs through it.
On Saturday, Amhara’s special forces commander, Brig Gen Tefera Mamo, was quoted by the region’s state media as saying the war had expanded to the state.
“The terrorist group has started a war in the Amhara and Afar regions and is also harassing Ethiopians,” Tefera said, referring to TPLF. “Amhara Special Forces are fighting in co-ordination with other security forces.” Thousands of people have died in the fighting, around two million have been displaced and more than five million rely on emergency food aid.