Ethiopia launches airstrikes on capital Tigray for fourth day this week


Ethiopia launched fresh air strikes on the capital of the Tigray region on Friday, the fourth day this week that the city was attacked, a government spokeswoman told AFP.

Friday’s operation targeted a training center used by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) rebel group, Billene Seyoum said, adding that “it was also serving as a battlenet hub for the terrorist organization. “.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government has been locked in a nearly year-long war against the TPLF, though Tigray itself has seen little fighting since late June, when rebels took control of much of Ethiopia’s northernmost region. and the army largely withdrew.

On Monday, the Ethiopian air force launched two attacks in Mekele, the capital of Tigray, which according to the UN killed three children and wounded several more.

And on Wednesday it bombed the TPLF weapons depots in Mekele and the town of Agbe, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) to the west.

A hospital official told AFP that Wednesday’s strike in Mekele injured at least eight people, including a pregnant woman.

A fourth attack in Mekele on Thursday resulted in no casualties, according to doctors and the TPLF.

There was no immediate information on the victims on Friday, but two humanitarian sources said a UN flight bound for Mekele was forced to return to Addis Ababa due to the attacks.

The international community has expressed alarm at the attacks.

A spokesman for the US State Department said Wednesday that Washington “condemns the continuing escalation of violence, which puts civilians in danger.”

The airstrikes come amid reports of heavy fighting in the Amhara region south of Tigray, where the TPLF launched an offensive in July.

On Wednesday, TPLF spokesman Getachew Reda claimed on Twitter that rebel fighters had taken control of at least two new towns in the region, placing the towns of Kombolcha and nearby Dessie, where tens of thousands have taken refuge from their advance, “within artillery range.”

Much of northern Ethiopia is blocked from communications and access for journalists is restricted, making independent verification of claims on the battlefield difficult.

Dessie residents reported a heavy military presence in the area on Thursday as displaced civilians from conflict-affected cities further north continued to arrive.

Help problems

Meanwhile, the UN once again sounded the alarm about dire humanitarian conditions in Tigray, saying in a report Thursday that some aid groups had been forced to suspend food distribution due to lack of fuel.

The AFP has documented starvation deaths in various parts of the region, citing internal documents from aid groups active there.

The UN said last week that the number of young children hospitalized due to severe malnutrition between February and August was double the number recorded during the same period last year.

About 2.5 percent of children screened were diagnosed with severe malnutrition in the past week, the UN said on Thursday, up from 2.3 percent the previous week.

Thursday’s report also noted that during the week ending October 13, only 52,000 people in Tigray received food assistance, or one percent of the 5.2 million targeted by aid groups.

“To reach 5.2 million people with food assistance in a six-week cycle, partners are expected to help at least 870,000 people on average per week,” the report said.