Ethiopia: Military Airstrikes Kill 3 in Tigray Capital

A man passes by a destroyed tank on the main street of Edaga Hamus, in the Tigray region (file photo).
18 October 2021

At least three people were killed after the Ethiopian military carried out air strikes in the capital of the troubled Tigray region on Monday.

Eye witnesses, senior Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) officials and aid workers have confirmed the airstrikes that targeted a busy market place and a hotel where several international aid organisation workers stay.

A regional TV station also reported that there was an airstrike in Mekele town and blamed Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for the attacks.

Kindeya Gebrehiwot, a spokesman for the Tigray authorities who lives in Mekelle, told The Associated Press that a market was bombed.

He added that three people were killed and several others were injured in the attacks.

Final offensive

Kindeya said the airstrikes took place on Monday morning at two locations, Harena or Mesebo and Adihaqi subcity where star level hotels and the city's main market is located.

"Abiy Ahmed's 'Air Force' sent its bomber jet to attack civilian targets in and outside Mekelle. Monday is market day in Mekelle and the intention is all too palpable" Getachew Reda, a senior TPLF official wrote on his Twitter page.

"While they are losing big in what they dubbed as a final offensive against Tigray, they will obviously continue to target civilians in a desperate move to exact revenge on the people of Tigray," he added.

According to Mekelle residents who spoke to international media outlets, at least seven people were wounded in the second attack, which also damaged a four-star hotel.

"One of their targets was the Planet Hotel, apparently the authorities in Addis are in the know about UN Ethiopia's recent decision to move most of its workforce out of Mekelle and Tigray"

"Our people won't be cowed into submission by a desperate move by a desperate regime teetering on the brink of collapse" Getachew, a former communication minister further stated in his tweet.

Pressure

The Ethiopian government has denied carrying out the raids.

"There is no reason, or no plan, to strike civilians in Mekelle, which is a part of Ethiopia, and home to our own citizens. This is an absolute lie," Legesse Tulu, head of the government communication service, told AFP news agency.

"It is a total lie of the TPLF junta, just to misguide the international community, to create pressure on Ethiopian," He added.

Today's bombing of Mekelle city comes two days after the Tigray rebel group, Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) which is fighting government and allied forces announced major victories in a week of renewed heavy fighting.

TPLF officials on Saturday said their forces have destroyed the whole of Eastern command of the National Defense Forces, including more divisions that were deployed as reinforcements.

They vowed that Tigray forces will end Abiy's "final and decisive" offensives.

Conflict erupted in Tigray last November, when the prime minister ordered a military operation against Tigray in a bid to depose TPLF leaders that had been ruling the region and the country for nearly 30 years.

The nearly one-year long conflict between the Ethiopian rivals has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people and left about 5.2 million people in need of emergency food assistance.

According to the United Nations, hundreds of thousands of people are currently facing acute food shortage.

Blokage on fuel, medical supplies, closure of banking service coupled with electricity communication blackout have worsened the humanitarian crisis in the Tigray region.

US President Joe Biden, in a meeting with his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday, reiterated the need for a peaceful resolution to the bloody conflict in Ethiopia.

A few days ago, TPLF said it is ready to sit down on a table with the Ethiopian government to find a peaceful way out of the civil war.

The group however accused Addis Ababa of repeatedly rejecting calls for mediation.

Ethiopia has repeatedly ruled out negotiations with TPLF, a group designated by Addis Ababa as a terrorist entity.

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