– Deadly airstrike in capital of rebel-held Tigray
Mekele, the capital of the Tigray rebels in Ethiopia, was hit by airstrikes overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday.
The airstrikes targeted Mekele, the capital of Tigray, between Tuesday and Wednesday night, hours after rebel officials in the Ethiopian region announced they intended to continue their “counteroffensive” in the country’s north.
After a five-month ceasefire, fighting resumed on 24 August around the southeastern tip of Tigray, between pro-Ethiopian government troops (federal army, regional forces and allied militias) and Tigrayan rebels, who have been in conflict since November 2020 and blame each other. Because of the resumption of hostilities.
“Night drone strike on Mekele, no military target imaginable,” Ketachew Reda, a spokesman for rebel officials in Tigray, tweeted, adding that “at least three bombs were fired.” The medical director of Mekele’s flagship Ayder Hospital, Dr. Kibrom Gebreselassie took to Twitter to talk about “a drone attack in Mekele at midnight” that resulted in “victims arriving at the hospital”.
Journalists do not have access to northern Ethiopia, making independent verification impossible. Mobile phone and internet networks in these areas are also affected or down. The Ethiopian government’s communications service could not immediately be reached.
Earlier, Getachew Reda explained during a web-broadcasted “press conference” that Tigrayan rebels, after initially seeing “defended (their) positions”, now launched a counterattack beyond the LTTE’s borders. “We are fighting a defensive war” and “we remain open to any negotiation,” he vowed, while vowing to continue this counteroffensive to “neutralize” government-sent military reinforcements in northern Ethiopia.
Asked by AFP on Tuesday, the Ethiopian government recalled “peaceful efforts and concrete steps taken” in this direction and reiterated its commitment to a peaceful resolution of the conflict, which has been unleashed again by “terrorists”. Tigre. On Saturday, the army withdrew from Kobo, a town in the Amhara region, fifteen kilometers south of Tigray, according to the government, to “avoid massive casualties” among civilians in the face of an onslaught by insurgents.
In recent days, according to diplomatic, humanitarian and local sources, the rebels have advanced fifty kilometers to the south, deep into Amhara, as well as into the southeastern Afar region. On Tuesday, APDA, an NGO working in Afar, said it had already identified 18,000 people displaced by renewed fighting and feared the number would rise as Afar rebels advance towards Amhara.
“Roads blocked as people evacuate” due to rebel advance, APDA said on Twitter. According to Getachew Reda, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed “is making miscalculations by continuing to send reinforcements after miscalculations”: “We will continue to neutralize them, which will take us further and further into Amhara territory”.
“We are not particularly interested in controlling this area, but as long as the forces unleashed against us continue to threaten the security of our people, we will continue to take appropriate measures to neutralize them” and “that will determine where we stop,” he threatened.