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Ethiopia conflict: Government accuses rebels of rocket attacks

The Ethiopian government has accused fighters in the breakaway Tigray region of rocket attacks on airports in the Amhara region. Observers fear destabilization in the Horn of Africa.

The conflict between the Ethiopian government and militias in the breakaway region of Tigray escalates more and more. Now Ethiopia has accused the rebellious People’s Liberation Front TPLF, which is ruling in Tigray, of launching rocket attacks on the neighbouring Amhara region. On Friday evening, rockets were fired from Tigray towards the cities of Bahir Dar and Gondar, the government in Addis Ababa declared. The airports of both cities had been damaged in the attacks.

The United Nations, the African Union and others are concerned that the fighting is spreading to other parts of Ethiopia, the second most populous country in Africa. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize only last year for his efforts in the conflict with Eritrea. Meanwhile, his army is fighting against the Tigray ethnic group from the north of the country. Until Abiy came to power, they were the main political force in the country.

The leader of the TPLF, the People’s Liberation Front in Tigray, Debretsion Gebremichael, said he had no information about the alleged missile attacks. “Any airport used to attack Tigray is a legitimate target, not the cities of Amhara,” he added. The Amhara regional state forces are fighting alongside their federal counterparts against the fighters of Tigray.Yohannes Ayele, a resident of Gondar, said he heard a loud explosion at 10:30pm in the Azezo district, according to Reuters news agency. A missile had damaged the airport terminal building, said another resident of the district. The area was sealed off and fire trucks were parked outside, the resident added. An Ethiopian Airlines employee who did not want to be identified said that flights to both Gondar and Bahir Dar airports had been cancelled after the attacks.

Human Rights Commission investigates massacre allegationsThe military conflict between Ethiopian central government troops in Addis Ababa and TPLF fighters was in full swing earlier this month. Hundreds of people have already been killed in it. Since then, according to UN figures, more than 14,500 people have fled the fighting in neighbouring Sudan. The speed of the new arrivals is already “overstretching the current capacity to provide aid,” the UN refugee agency warned on Friday.

“The TPLF junta is deploying the last remaining weapons in its arsenals,” the Ethiopian government’s emergency task force now wrote on Twitter. Prime Minister Abiy last week sent the national defense force on an offensive against local troops in Tigray after he accused them of attacking federal troops.

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