Violent unrest is rising in Ethiopia’s Amhara region after attempt to disarm fighters, witnesses say

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Violent unrest is escalating in Ethiopia’s Amhara region as federal security forces clash with a local ethnic militia, leading the deputy prime minister in an unusually outspoken statement to call the situation “increasingly grave.”

Ethiopia’s second most populous region has been gripped by instability since April, when federal authorities disarmed the Amhara regional force as part of the recovery from a devastating two-year conflict in the neighboring Tigray region. Authorities last year also tried to dismantle the Amhara militia known as Fano.

Both forces had fought alongside federal ones in the Tigray conflict, but now the federal government wants to centralize its security powers. Many Amhara, however, are deeply attached to their regional fighters and accuse the federal government of trying to undermine their region, which federal officials reject.

Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen on Wednesday called for dialogue to seek a peaceful resolution and described some of the concerns of the Amhara population as “understandable.”