Ethiopia has warned it could deploy its “entire defensive capability” against rebels from the the northern Tigray region after their recent advances.
Rebels took control of the town of Lalibela, a Unesco World Heritage Site in neighbouring Amhara region, on Thursday.
The government said if its humanitarian overtures went unreciprocated it would be “pushed to mobilise and deploy the entire defensive capability of the state”.
Fighting has escalated since June when the rebels, made up of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and its allies, recaptured much of Tigray in an offensive.
The national army withdraw and declared a unilateral ceasefire.
However, aid routes into Tigray have been blocked and the authorities have been mobilising fighters, with rallies nationwide encouraging people to enlist.
The rebels want a negotiated cessation of hostilities, but the foreign ministry said their actions were irresponsible.
The TPLF was “testing the federal government’s patience and pushing it to change its defensive mood which has been taken for the sake of the unilateral humanitarian ceasefire”, its statement said.