Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed says the country's defence chief of staff has been shot following unrest in the northern Amhara region.
Appearing on TV dressed in military fatigues, Mr Abiy also said several officials had been killed in an attack in the Amhara regional capital Bahir Dar.
Earlier the government said there had been an "attempted coup" in Amhara.
Reports say the internet is down in the country.
Residents in Bahir Dar reported hearing heavy gunfire.
The US state department said it was also aware of reports of gunfire in the national capital Addis Ababa.
Mr Ahmed was elected last year and has moved to end political repression in Ethiopia by releasing political prisoners, removing bans on political parties and prosecuting officials accused of rights abuses.
But since he has come to power, ethnic violence has re-emerged and has left 2.4 million Ethiopians displaced, the UN says.
Mr Abiy said that Chief of Staff General Seare Mekonnen had been attacked by "mercenaries".
He did not give any details about his condition.
He also said that some officials in Amhara had been in a meeting when they were shot and killed "by their colleagues".
Mr Abiy's spokesman Negussu Tilahun earlier said that the coup plotters had attempted to oust Ambachew Mekonnen, the head of the Amhara regional government.
Efforts were under way to apprehend them, he said.
In a statement, the ruling party in Amhara accused a former security chief - who was released from jail after Mr Abiy came to power - of being behind the violence.
One lecturer in Bahir Dar told Reuters news agency the gunfire in the city lasted at least four hours.
"I first thought it was just a normal kind of incident and then we began to hear heavy gunfire," he said.
Events scheduled for Sunday have been cancelled, state TV said.