Ethiopia launches new air raids on Tigray region: Gov’t
The government says a TPLF training and military command post was the target of the raid in western Tigray, followed by a second strike in the region’s north.
In this file photo from October 20, smoke billows from the scene of an air raid in Mekelle, the capital of Tigray region [File: Reuters]
24 Oct 2021
Ethiopia’s military has carried out a second air attack in the northern part of Tigray, according to a statement issued by the government shortly after it said it launched an air raid on a rebel-held facility in Tigray’s west.
The raids on Sunday would be the seventh and eighth aerial bombardments in the war-hit region in a week.
“Today the western front of (Mai Tsebri) which was serving as a training and military command post for the terrorist group TPLF has been the target of an air strike,” government spokeswoman Selamawit Kassa said, referring to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
It was not immediately possible to verify the claims of the raids on Mai Tsebri and the town of Adwa, as communications are down throughout most of war-hit Tigray.
After the announcement of the first air raid, TPLF spokesperson Getachew Reda told the Reuters news agency he had no information about any air attack on Sunday and would seek to verify the report with his colleagues.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government has been locked in a war against the TPLF since last November, though Tigray itself had seen little combat since late June when the rebels seized control of much of Ethiopia’s northernmost region and the military largely withdrew.
But on Monday Ethiopia’s air force launched two strikes on Tigray’s capital Mekelle that the United Nations said killed three children and wounded several other people.
Since then there have been three more air raids on Mekelle and another targeting what the government described as a weapons cache in the town of Agbe, about 80 kilometres (50 miles) to the west.
The air attacks coincide with ramped-up fighting in the Amhara region, south of Tigray.
They have drawn rebukes from Western powers, with the United States last week condemning “the continuing escalation of violence, putting civilians in harm’s way”.
An air attack on Friday on Mekelle forced a UN flight carrying 11 humanitarian personnel to turn back to the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, and the UN subsequently announced it was suspending its twice-weekly flights to the region.
War erupted nearly a year ago between federal troops and the TPLF, which governed Ethiopia for three decades at the helm of a multi-ethnic coalition and now controls the northern region.
Thousands of people have been killed and more than two million have been forced to flee.
Tigray remains under a communications blackout, making it difficult to verify claims, while areas of fighting in Amhara are largely unreachable, as well.
The government since June has imposed what the UN calls a “de facto humanitarian blockade” on the region of some six million people.