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Ethiopia dissolves Tigray government as tensions rise

Hundreds are donating blood in Ethiopia as an ethnic dipute turns violent.   -  
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EDUARDO SOTERAS/AFP or licensors

Ethiopia

Ethiopia's parliament voted to dissolve the government of the northern Tigray region on Saturday as the dispute escalates.

It comes a day after the army launched airstrikes to destroy military assets in the region.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Friday that airstrikes had already neutralised "rockets that can hit a range of 300 kilometres from where they are stationed in Mekele City and other places in the vicinity".

The dispute erupted on Wednesday after Ahmed accused the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) of attacking a federal military base and stealing equipment.

How did we get here?

Tigray leaders say they have been unfairly targeted by allegations of corruption.

They also allege Abiy, who won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for ending a decades-old conflict with neighbouring Eritrea, is an illegitimate leader as his mandate ran out when he postponed elections due to coronavirus.

Tensions also rose after Tigray held its elections in September, defying Abiy's government.

Giving blood

Meanwhile, blood-donation tents have popped up in several locations in Gondar and hundreds of residents have been donating since Wednesday.

"We are giving our blood to support the Amhara fighters... There are maybe injured military persons, that's why we give," Robel Samuel, 28, told AFP after donating.

"They are fighting for us. That's why we give not only today, but the next days and weeks we will support," he added.

Calls for peace

UN chief Antonio Guterres called for the immediate de-escalation of tensions amid reports of shelling and the gathering of troops along Tigray's borders.

"I'm deeply alarmed over the situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. The stability of Ethiopia is important for the entire Horn of Africa region," he said on Friday.

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