Ethiopia’s military has accused the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) of supporting the rebels the government is fighting in the northern Tigray region, and of trying to procure weapons for them.

In a televised statement on Thursday, army chief of staff General Birhanu Jula claimed Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was also lobbying to secure diplomatic support for Tigray state’s dominant political party, which is fighting federal troops.

The Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front is accused by the Ethiopian government of armed rebellion. The TPLF says it has been persecuted and purged from government since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power.

Before then, Tigrayans had dominated Ethiopian politics and Tedros, an Ethiopian of Tigrayan descent, served as health minister in a former government coalition led by the TPLF.

A spokesperson for the WHO said there was no immediate comment on the accusation.

On Thursday the Ethiopian government also accused the Tigrayan rebels of committing “atrocities” in the two-week conflict – referencing reports of ethnic killings in the town of Mai Kadra.

Survivors of the reported attack, which was documented by human rights group Amnesty International, said militias affiliated to the TPLF killed scores or even hundreds of civilians, some of whom were from the Amhara ethnic group.

Displaced Tigrayans in Sudan last week said they had been targeted by a government-affiliated militia because of their ethnicity.

Information from all sides has been impossible to verify because internet and phone connections to Tigray have been suspended and the government has restricted access to the area