There was no immediate comment from Eritrea, which human rights groups have described as one of the world's most repressive nations.
In a separate statement, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Eritrea’s presence in Ethiopia is “posing a significant obstacle to a cessation of hostilities, and threatening the integrity of the Ethiopian state.” He called again for Eritrean soldiers to withdraw immediately.
Blinken said the U.S. was not imposing sanctions on Ethiopia’s government and the Tigray forces “to allow time and space” to see if efforts by African Union envoy Olusegun Obasanjo to urge them into talks without preconditions make progress.
Without “meaningful progress,” Blinken said, such sanctions could be imposed.
In separate comments to reporters, he expressed concern that Ethiopia, Africa's second most-populous country, could “implode.” Blinken spoke before he visits neighboring Kenya next week as part of efforts to calm the crisis.
The U.S. sanctions imposed Friday also targeted Abraha Kassa Nemariam, the head of the Eritrean National Security Office; Hidri Trust, the holding company of the Eritrean ruling party's business enterprises; the Red Sea Trading Corporation, which managed the ruling party's financial interests; and the corporation's chief executive, Hagos Ghebrehiwet W. Kidan.
Ethiopia’s war has created one of the world’s worst crises. Hundreds of thousands of people face famine conditions in the Tigray region under what the United Nations has called a “de facto humanitarian blockade.”
“People are dying because of lack of supplies,” World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus told reporters Friday, calling the blockade “systemic.”
Tedros, a former Ethiopian foreign minister under the previous government, also accused Ethiopia’s current government of ethnic profiling and detaining people by the thousands.
“This is blatant and open,” he said.
Witnesses have told The Associated Press that ethnic Tigrayans, including American and British citizens, are being swept up in a new wave of detentions since Ethiopia’s government imposed a state of emergency last week as Tigray forces moved closer to the capital.
Matt Lee in Washington contributed.