Ethiopia launches airstrike against breakaway Tigray region

Ethiopian refugees are fleeing clashes in the country's northern Tigray region cross the border into Hamdayet, Sudan. File Photo by Ariane Maxiandeau/UNHCR

Nov. 17 (UPI) — At least two people were dead after Ethiopia launched an airstrike against the breakaway Tigray region.

The Ethiopian air force dropped bombs in and around Mekelle, the capital of the northern province, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, or TPLF, said on its Facebook page.

“Highly sophisticated weaponry which included drones and other technologies that cannot be found on the African continent were extensively used when attacking the people of Tigray,” a statement from TPLF said.

About 25,000 refugees have escaped into neighboring Sudan and hundreds have been killed since Nov. 4, when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered air raids and attacks by the Ethiopian Defense Forces Northern Command. Regional watchers say Eritrea is now being drawn into the conflict.

“We don’t know the target and who was targeted,” Ann Encontre, representative of the United Nations refugee agency in Ethiopia, told Al Jazeera abut the airstrikes. “We have intermittent communication with colleagues when we do get access to the internet, but still we know that everybody was deadly afraid and civilians started moving right away.”

On Sunday, Tigray President Debretsion Gebremichael said that the region launched an attack on Eritrea and conducted a missile strike at an airport in the Eritrean capital of Asmara, describing it as a “legitimate target.”

The Tigray region has been in conflict with the rest of Ethiopia for weeks.

Ahmed and parliament voted last week to dissolve the government of the region and disband the TPLF, calling the group “criminal elements.”

The United Nations warned that “heavy casualties and destruction” were in store for the region.

“if the Tigray national (and) regional forces and Ethiopian Government forces continue down the path they are on, there is a risk this situation will spiral totally out of control,” Michelle Bachelet, the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a statement.

The UN said in a report on Thursday that cut telephone lines and dangerous conditions make it impossible to bring food, health supplies and other emergency supplies into the Tigray region.


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