Ethiopian air strike hits capital Mekelle

Troops in the Tigray region of Ethiopia on Monday (18/10) said the Ethiopian government had launched airstrikes in the capital Mekelle.

The bombing was also reported by residents and humanitarian aid workers in Tigray. But the Ethiopian government denied the claims, while the United Nations said it was investigating reports of the northern offensive.

“We are deeply concerned by the potential impact of this attack on civilians,” said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

Separately, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said the United States was also investigating the reported air strike. “We, in general, remain very concerned about what has (caused) the escalation of violence in Tigray in recent times,” he said.

French news agency AFP, citing a hospital official in Mekelle, reported that at least three people were killed in Monday’s air strike. Several witnesses said one of the air strikes took place near the market area. It was almost impossible to confirm the report as communication lines in the region were cut off.

The Ethiopian government convent, Legesse Tulu, denied that the government had launched any attack on Mekelle.

Mekelle hasn’t experienced a major battle since last June when Tigray’s forces recaptured large swathes of territory and Ethiopian troops withdrew. After that the conflict continued to spread to neighboring areas, namely Amhara and Afar.

Tigray troops last week said the Ethiopian military had launched a ground offensive to push them out of Amhara.

The Ethiopian federal government has been involved in armed conflict with militants in the northern region of Tigray for nearly a year.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed when sending troops to Tigray in November 2020 said the move was in response to attacks on federal army camps by forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.

The United Nations says the fighting has killed thousands and left hundreds of thousands more in danger of acute starvation. (em / jm)

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