Ethiopia launches airstrikes in northern and western Tigray
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.
The Ethiopian military launched two airstrikes on what a government official said were rebel-held facilities in Tigray on Sunday, the seventh and eighth bombings in its war-torn northern region in a week.
The strikes, far from the regional capital Mekele, signaled that the military was potentially expanding its aerial bombardment campaign, which drew international reprimands and disrupted UN flights to the famine-threatened region.
“Today the western front of (Mai Tsebri) which served as a training post and military command for the terrorist group TPLF was the target of an airstrike,” said government spokeswoman Selamawit Kassa, referring to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tigray (TPLF). .
Selamawit later said the same mission destroyed a separate facility in the northern town of Adwa, used to make “military equipment” as well as fake military uniforms used by TPLF fighters.
There was no immediate response from the TPLF, which condemned previous strikes as evidence of the government’s contempt for the lives of civilians.
There was also no immediate information about the victims in Mai Tsebri or Adwa.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government has been engaged in a war against the TPLF since last November, although Tigray itself has seen little fighting since late June, when rebels took control of much of the region. northernmost part of Ethiopia and that the army has largely withdrawn.
But on Monday, the Ethiopian air force launched two strikes on Mekele, the capital of Tigray, which the UN said killed three children and injured several others.
Since then, there have been three more strikes on Mekele and another targeting what the government has described as a weapons cache in the town of Agbe, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) to the west.
The strikes coincide with the intensification of fighting in the Amhara region, south of Tigray.
They drew reprimands from Western powers, with the United States last week condemning “the continued escalation of violence, putting civilians at risk.”
– UN suspends flights –
A strike on Mekele on Friday forced a UN flight carrying 11 aid workers back to the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, and the UN subsequently announced it was suspending its bi-weekly flights to the region.
TPLF spokesman Getachew Reda criticized the air force on Friday for endangering the UN flight.
“Our air defense units knew the UN plane had to land and it was largely because of their restraint that it wasn’t caught in the crossfire,” Getachew said on Twitter.
The TPLF issued a statement on Saturday saying the incident revealed “the government’s intention to continue to hamper humanitarian operations.”
The conflict has raised fears of widespread famine, as the UN estimates it has pushed 400,000 people into Tigray in near starvation conditions.