Ethiopia: Second bomb blast hits Tigray's capital, Mekelle
MEKELLE, ETHIOPIA - A second airstrike hit Tigray region's administrative capital, Mekelle, with several feared dead as Addis Ababa intensifies what it terms as "Final Offensive" as Ethiopia risks plunging into a civil war, just months after Abiy Ahmed took over.
Reports indicate that Ethiopian National Defense Forces [ENDF] targeted Mekelle on Wednesday in the latest offensive against Tigray Defense Forces [TDF], an outfit that is associated with Tigray People's Liberation Front [TPLF].
The airstrike comes just two days after the federal army bombed the town, which has been under the control of TDF, a militia keen to topple the current administration of Abiy Ahmed, as the crisis escalates to the next level.
Getachew Reda, the spokesperson of TDF, accused ENDF of targeting residential homes in Mekelle, adding that dozens of people were injured in the process. Auditing of the people killed or properties destroyed is currently underway.
"Abiy Ahmed’s Air Force has once again targeted residential quarters in Mekelle causing injury to civilians and harm to property," Getachew Reda, the former federal government information minister said as he accused PM Abiy Ahmed of a witch-hunt.
"Abiy’s reaction to his losses in the ongoing fighting is to target civilians hundreds of KMs away from the battlefield, " said in a tweet, with Ethiopia now expected to face fresh sanctions should the conflict fail to be mitigated.
The federal government of Ethiopia did not immediately take responsibility for the latest airstrikes but on Monday, the ENDF took responsibility for the first airstrike in Mekelle, hours after rejecting any role. At least three children were killed.
ENDF launched the Final Offensive a fortnight ago after retreating for several months as TDF took over. In return, the TDF, which had seized several parts of Tigray and neighboring states of Afar and Amhara, claimed it had pushed the federal army further.
Several aid groups have decried that Addis Ababa has vehemently tried to cut supply routes to Tigray, subjecting thousands of people to imminent hunger. The war started in November 2020 after TDF attacked the Northern Command.
Sudan had offered to mediate the conflict but talks are yet to begin, with Abiy Ahmed accused of being a stumbling block to the negotiations. TDF has vowed to push the federal army out as it renews the secessionist idea which was opposed decades ago.