In response to the federal government, airports close to the Ethiopian state of Tigray are attacking with rockets
© Reuters. FILE-PHOTO: FILE-PHOTO: Members of the militias of the Amhara region drive their truck to the mission to face the Tigray People’s Liberation Front in Sanja
By Giulia Paravicini
ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Two airports in the Ethiopian state of Amhara, bordering Tigray, where federal troops are fighting local forces, were hit by rockets late Friday, the government said.
One of the rockets hit the Gondar airport and partially damaged it late Friday, said Awoke Worku, spokesman for the central zone of Gondar, while a second landed simultaneously outside the airport in Bahir Dar.
The government blamed the ruling party in Tigray, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
“The TPLF junta is using the last weapons in its arsenals,” the government’s emergency task force wrote on Twitter.
Debretsion Gebremichael, chairman of the TPLF and president of the state, said the airports were legitimate targets.
“Any airport where Tigray is attacked is a legitimate target, not the cities of Amhara,” he told Reuters in a text message.
Hundreds of people were killed in the 11 day old war. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent the national defense on an offensive against local troops in Tigray last week after accusing them of attacking federal troops.
An Ethiopian Airlines official who refused to be identified said flights to Gondar and Bahir Dar airports were canceled after the attacks.
Yohannes Ayele, a resident of Gondar, said he heard a loud explosion in the Azezo neighborhood at 10:30 p.m.
Another resident of the area said the missile damaged the airport terminal building. The area has been cordoned off and fire engines have been parked outside, the resident added.
The armed forces of the regional state of Amhara fought Tigray’s fighters together with their federal colleagues.
The United Nations, the African Union and others fear that the fighting could spread to other parts of Ethiopia, Africa’s second largest country, and destabilize the Horn of Africa region.
More than 14,500 people have fled to neighboring Sudan. The speed of the new arrivals “overwhelms the current ability to provide aid,” the UN refugee agency said on Friday.
The Ethiopian Commission on Human Rights, appointed by the government but independent, said it was sending a team of investigators to the town of Mai Kadra, Tigray, where Amnesty International reported this week that there was evidence of mass murders.
The commission will investigate all human rights violations in the conflict, it said in a statement.
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