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DECEMBER 2021

Second Government Airstrike Attack Within A Week Targets Tigray’s Capital Mekelle

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Second Government Airstrike Attack Within A Week Targets Tigray's Capital Mekelle

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On October 20th, Ethiopia’s air force carried out its second airstrike within a week on the Tigray region’s capital Mekelle.

Tigrai Television, controlled by the region’s Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), said the attack targeted the centre of the city of Mekelle but gave no details of casualties or damage.

It posted photographs of what appeared to be plumes of billowing smoke and said in a statement on Facebook that the strike was at 10:24 a.m. local time.

Ethiopia’s government later said the air strike targeted buildings where Tigrayan forces were repairing armament. Those forces said the attack showed the government’s desperation.

“They are desperate on the war front,” said TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael. “My interpretation is they are bombing us because they are losing on the ground and it’s their reprisal. The fact that they are bombing shows they don’t care about Tigrayan civilians.”

Gebremichael spoke to Reuters by satellite phone from an undisclosed location. He said he did not have information on possible casualties.

The report of a strike comes two days after two air strikes hit the city. Rebellious Tigrayan forces accused the Ethiopian government of launching the strikes.

Tigrai TV, controlled by the TPLF, said the attack on the city of Mekelle killed three civilians.

Ethiopia’s government spokesman, Legesse Tulu, denied launching any attack. “Why would the Ethiopian government attack its own city? Mekelle is an Ethiopian city,” he said.

“Terrorists are the ones who attack cities with innocent civilians in them, not government,” Legesse added. He accused the TPLF of killing civilians in fighting in neighboring regions.

But the state-run Ethiopian Press Agency said late in the day that Ethiopia’s air force conducted an air strike and that it was aimed at communications infrastructure in the city.

TPLF spokesperson Getachew Reda tweeted about the attacks on both occasions, as can be seen above.

In July, the TPLF pushed into the two other regions, Amhara and Afar, and several hundred thousand more people fled their homes, according to United Nations estimates.

On Oct. 11, the TPLF said the Ethiopian military had launched an offensive to try to dislodge the Tigrayan fighters from Amhara, following a barrage of air strikes reported the previous week.

The military said later last week that “they (the TPLF) have opened war on all fronts” and said the military was inflicting heavy casualties.

“The federal air strikes on Mekelle appear to be part of efforts to weaken Tigray’s armed resistance, which has recently made further gains in eastern Amhara region, with fighting ongoing in some areas,” said Will Davison, a senior analyst on Ethiopia at the Brussels-based International Crisis Group, a think-tank.

“Along with superior manpower, control of the skies is one of the few remaining areas of military advantage for the federal government,” Davison said.

Diplomats are worried that renewed fighting will further destabilise Ethiopia, a nation of 109 million people, and deepen hunger in Tigray and the surrounding regions.

The United Nations has received “alarming reports” of aerial attacks in Mekelle but was still trying to verify details, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York.

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Chris Gr

Turcophiles (Ethiopian army) vs Maoists (TPLF).

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