A satellite image shows smoke rising from Mekelle, following airstrikes A satellite image shows smoke rising from Mekelle, following airstrikes 

Ethiopia: Airstrikes target Tigray region

Ethiopian government forces launch two aerial attacks on the Tigray region, escalating its week-long campaign to weaken the forces of the dissident Tigray People’s Liberation Front.

By Vatican News staff writer

Ethiopia’s military carried out two airstrikes in Tigray on Sunday, intensifying a week of aerial bombardments in the conflict-ridden region of the country.

Reports say that one of the airstrikes hit the western front of Mai Tsebri, targeting a training site of the dissident Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). The second strike hit a military manufacturing facility controlled by the TPLF in the northern town of Adwa.

Sunday’s airstrikes come after the government carried out other airstrikes on Tigray earlier in the week.

On Monday 18 October, three children were killed and one person was injured in airstrikes on Mekelle, the Tigrayan regional capital. On Wednesday, Ethiopian forces launched two further airstrikes on Tigray between hours of each other. The first hit Mekelle, while the other hit Agbe in the Tembe region, some 50 miles west of Mekelle.

Worsening humanitarian crisis

The latest air attacks, which are far from the regional capital Mekelle, indicate that the Ethiopian military is widening its campaign of airstrikes against Tigray, in the conflict that has created a worsening humanitarian crisis.

The Ethiopian government stepped up aerial bombardments after fighting escalated in the neighboring region of Amhara where the TPLF has seized territory.

On Friday, a UN humanitarian aid flight destined for Mekelle was forced to return to Addis Ababa due to airstrikes prompting serious concerns about the safety of the humanitarian staff who are working to help civilians in need.

In a statement, Martin Griffiths, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator lamented the conflict dynamic that is making it increasingly difficult for the UN and NGOs to deliver assistance to millions of people in desperate need in Tigray.

“I reiterate our grave concern for civilians as airstrikes on Mekelle continue and as humanitarian assistance into Tigray remains insufficient. I am also increasingly alarmed about the impact of fighting in Amhara and Afar regions and the worsening toll on civilians,” Griffiths said.

Conflict in Tigray

Ethiopian federal forces and the TPLF have been fighting for almost a year in a conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people and has forced more than 2 million to become displaced.

The ongoing fighting has also raised concerns about widespread starvation as the UN estimates that about 400,000 people in Tigray are facing famine-like conditions.

The TPLF had dominated Ethiopian politics for decades but clashed with the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed after he came to power in 2018.

Abiy launched a military offensive against the TPLF in November 2020. The government troops initially drove the TPLF out of Mekelle, but forces loyal to the TPLF recaptured the regional capital in a counter-attack this year and have also seized control of parts of the neighbouring Amhara region.

25 October 2021, 12:10