Fighting has flared up in multiple areas of Ethiopia’s Amhara region between the army and local militias.
Since April the security situation in Amhara has been deteriorating following the decision to disband the region’s state-backed paramilitary group.
Some paramilitary members were integrated into the army and police, but others are believed have joined local militias that feel Amhara has been left exposed to attacks from other regions.
Clashes on Tuesday forced flights to be cancelled in the historic town of Lalibela, a Unesco world heritage site, where residents told the BBC the violence was “intense”.
Amhara militias – referred to as Fano – now have control of the airport, according to activists and media outlets linked to them. The BBC has not been able to independently confirm this.
Fighting has also been reported around at least four other towns – some of which have been described as “heavy” by residents.
Images shared on social media show protesters blocking roads with rocks as they try to restrict the movement of troops.
An army spokesperson confirmed the military was engaged in an offensive against armed groups in Amhara.
The advocacy group Amhara Association of America (AAA) said it had confirmed clashes in several areas and expressed its concerns about the safety of civilians.
Yilkal Kefale, president of the region, said his office was open to resolving issues through dialogue.