Rockets fired at two Ethiopian cities as the Tigray conflict continues

Two explosions hit cities in Ethiopia’s Amhara state, adjacent to the northern state of Tigray where federal troops are fighting local forces, and the Human Rights Commission warned of violations of rights in the conflict.

Hundreds of people have been killed in clashes since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent the National Defense Force on offensive against well-trained local troops in Tigray on November 4, after accusing them of attacking a federal military base in the area.

The explosions in Amhara were in Bahir Dar and Gondar late on Friday, says Amhara’s communications office and the state news service.

Investigations had begun to determine if the explosions were linked to the fighting in Tigray, the Amhara communications office said without giving details of any casualties.

The forces of the Amhara region state have fought alongside their federal counterparts against forces from Tigray’s ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

>> The Tigray conflict threatens to “catalyze” tensions elsewhere in Ethiopia

The UN, the African Union and others are worried that the fighting could spread to other parts of Africa’s second most populous country and destabilize the wider region of Africa.

More than 14,500 people have fled to neighboring Sudan, with the rate of new arrivals “overwhelming the current ability to provide assistance,” the UN refugee agency said.

The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, appointed by the government but independent, said it was sending a team of investigators to the city of Mai Kadra in Tigray, where Amnesty International reported evidence of mass deaths.

The massacre of civilians reported by Amnesty would constitute war crimes if it was confirmed that it was committed by one of the warring forces, said UN Chief of Staff Michelle Bachelet on Friday.

The Ethiopian Commission will investigate possible human rights violations in the conflict, it said in a statement, adding that there was a “reasonable risk of ethnic profiling” linked to the military confrontation.