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Conflict continues in Tigray region


Conflict continues in Tigray region
'We fled from death and murder'. (BBC)

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The president of Ethiopia’s Tigray region says his forces fired rockets at Eritrea’s airport on Saturday night, widening the conflict in the area.

Debretsion Gebremichael accused the Ethiopian national forces of using the airport to launch attacks on Tigray.

Ethiopia’s federal government has not yet commented on the accusation.

But the attack is seen as a major escalation of the 12-day conflict between the Ethiopian government and the governing party in Tigray.

Fighting over Tigray has also affected Sudan, with at least 17 000 civilians crossing the border from Ethiopia, according to the United Nations.

Ethiopia has been through big changes since its Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power in 2018. He was awarded the Nobel peace prize last year after reaching out to make peace with neighbouring Eritrea, with whom Ethiopia had fought a bloody war two decades ago.

But the widespread reforms he pushed through sidelined the Tigrayans of the TPLF who had long dominated the political scene – and in recent weeks, tensions between the The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the federal government seriously escalated.

On Saturday night, residents of Asmara reported hearing loud explosions, amid reports of rockets landing near the city’s airport. No casualties have been reported yet.

The Tigrayans have also accused Eritrean forces of crossing into Ethiopia to back federal forces there.

Reuters news agency quotes the Tigrayan leader Debretsion as saying that his forces have been fighting 16 divisions of the Eritrean army on several fronts for the past few days.

While Eritrea’s government has denied any role in the conflict, the BBC’s Africa regional editor Will Ross says reports of fighting along the border, and of soldiers being treated in Eritrean hospitals, suggest the opposite is true. (BBC)