Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed addresses the nation in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia November 4, 2020. REUTERS

The federal government in Ethiopia had declared a six-month state of emergency in Tigray following clashes between security forces of the  Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), federal troops.  in the northern region on Wednesday.

Tensions have been escalating since September when Tigray held regional elections in defiance of the federal government, which called the vote “illegal.”

Observers say the vote set the scene for the current tensions, in which both sides accuse the other of illegally resorting to military force.

In recent days, both sides accused each other of plotting a military conflict.

Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed announced that he had ordered a military offensive in the wake of an alleged attack on a military base.

Redwan Hussein, the spokesman for a newly established State of Emergency Task Force, said the government viewed the TPLF as the real enemy, not the Tigray region.

“This conflict is with a very small group, with narrow vested interests, which is hell-bent on destabilizing the national order,” Redwan told a news briefing.

Tigray’s population makes up 5% of Ethiopia‘s more than 110 million people, but the area is wealthier and more influential than many other, larger regions and has a well-trained army.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for immediate measures to de-escalate tensions and ensure a peaceful resolution to the dispute, his spokesman said in a statement.