Conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region Widens as Missiles Are Fired at Airports

Conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region Widens as Missiles Are Fired at Airports

By Nov. 14, 2020

Two airports in Ethiopia’s Amhara state which neighbours Tigray where federal troops are fighting local forces were targeted by rocket fire, the government said, as an 11-day conflict widened.

The ruling party of Tigray said its forces fired missiles from military bases in another state in retaliation for airstrikes carried out by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s military.

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (The New York Times) — Two airports in a state that neighbors Tigray, where Ethiopian troops are fighting local forces, were the targets of rocket fire late on Friday, the government said, as an 11-day conflict in the region widened.

The two targeted airports were in Amhara state, the government said. One — the airport in Gondar — was hit on Friday, while a rocket aimed at the other — Bahir Dar airport — missed the target, the government said.

The ruling Tigray party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, or T.P.L.F., said the Tigray Defense Forces fired missiles from military bases in Bahir Dar and Gondar in retaliation for air trikes carried out by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s forces in various parts of the state.

“As long as the attacks on the people of Tigray do not stop, the attacks will intensify,” Getachew Reda, a spokesman for the T.P.L.F., said in a statement on the Facebook page of the Tigray state’s communications office.

Mr. Abiy sent Ethiopian armed forces on an offensive against local troops in Tigray last week, after accusing them of attacking federal troops. Hundreds of people have been killed in the widening conflict.

The prime minister has said government warplanes were bombing military targets in Tigray, including arms depots and equipment controlled by the local forces in Tigray. The government says its military operations are aimed at restoring the rule of law in the mountainous state of 5 million people.

A rocket that hit the airport in Gondar partially damaged it, said Awoke Worku, spokesperson for the Gondar central zone, while a second missile fired simultaneously landed just outside of the airport at Bahir Dar.

“The T.P.L.F. junta is utilizing the last of the weaponry within its arsenals,” the Ethiopian government’s emergency task force wrote on Twitter.

The Amhara regional state’s forces have been fighting alongside their federal counterparts against Tigray’s fighters.

Yohannes Ayele, a resident of Gondar, said he heard a loud explosion in the Azezo neighborhood of the city at 10:30 p.m.

Conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region
Ethiopians who fled fighting in Tigray, Ethiopia, gathered in a bordering Sudanese village on Friday as refugees flowed into the area.Credit…Ebrahim Hamid/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Another resident of the area said the rocket had damaged the airport terminal building. The area was sealed off and firefighting vehicles were parked outside, the resident added.

The United Nations, the African Union and others are concerned that the fighting could spread to other parts of Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous country, and destabilize the wider Horn of Africa region.

More than 14,500 people have fled into neighboring Sudan, with the speed of new arrivals “overwhelming the current capacity to provide aid,” the U.N. refugee agency said on Friday.

Ethiopia’s Human Rights Commission said it was sending investigators to the town of Mai Kadra in Tigray, where Amnesty International this week reported what it said was evidence of mass killings.

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