Ethiopia's government has asked the United States to stop spreading what it considers falsehoods against the country, the state minister of communication Kebede Dessisa said Thursday, after the State Department issued an alert about potential "terrorist attacks."
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's government and rebellious forces from the Tigray region in the north have been fighting for more than a year, in a conflict that has killed thousands and displaced millions in Africa's second most populous nation.
This week, the Irish government said Ethiopia had expelled four of six Irish diplomats from the country because of Ireland's stance on the conflict. Spokespeople for the Ethiopian government also have warned against unnamed external threats and repeatedly criticized Western governments for what they say is inaccurate coverage of the war.
Kebede, the state minister of communication, was quoted by state broadcaster EBC as telling a news conference the U.S. government should refrain from disseminating "shameful fake news and defamation regarding Ethiopia."
He referred to a statement Wednesday on Twitter by the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa that urged its citizens to maintain a high level of vigilance due to "the ongoing possibility of terrorist attacks in Ethiopia."
Earlier this month, tens of thousands of Ethiopians lied in the capital to support the government, where they denounced the United States for alleged interference in Ethiopia's internal affairs. Washington has urged its citizens to leave Ethiopia immediately while the security situation still permits.
On Thursday, dozens of protesters took their anger to the U.S. Embassy in the city, where they displayed banners reading "Interference is Undemocratic" and "Truth Wins."
Asked for comment, a U.S. Embassy official said the safety of U.S. citizens abroad is one of the highest priorities of the State Department, adding: "We continue to urge U.S. citizens in Ethiopia to depart now using commercially available flight options."
Tigrayan forces and their allies have threatened to march on the capital Addis Ababa. They also have been fighting fiercely to try to cut a transport corridor linking landlocked Ethiopia with the region's main port Djibouti.
On Tuesday, U.S. Special Envoy Jeffrey Feltman warned of an "alarming" increase in military operations and said both Abiy and the Tigrayan forces seem to believe they are on the cusp of military victory.