Ethiopian troops shot at and detained UN staff after they drove through check-points in the conflict-hit northern Tigray region, government spokesman Redwan Hussein has confirmed. The UN team ignored instructions not to be in the area, he added.
Government forces have been battling the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in the region since 4 November.
The UN team was reportedly trying to visit a camp for Eritrean refugees on Sunday when the shooting occurred.
There has been much concern about the fate of the refugees following unconfirmed reports that Eritrean troops had crossed into Tigray, and had taken some of them back to Eritrea.
Both governments deny that Eritrean troops are in Tigray to help defeat the TPLF.
The UN has appealed to the Ethiopian government to give it “unfettered humanitarian access” to Tigray amid concern about food shortages and medical supplies in a region with a population of more than eight million.
“Some of the UN staff were actually detained and some were shot at,” Mr Redwan was quoted by AFP news agency as saying.
“They broke two check-points to drive to areas where they were not supposed to go, and that they were told not to go. When they were about to break the third one, they were shot at and detained,” he added.
The UN has not yet commented on the incident.