Ethiopian forces conduct airstrikes on Tigray amid humanitarian crisis

AFP
Tigray Updated: Oct 18, 2021, 05:04 PM(IST)

Tigray conflict Photograph:( AFP )

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Tigray had erupted in conflict last November after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops to topple the region's former ruling party

Ethiopian forces hit the Tigrayan capital of Mekele with airstrikes on Monday, humanitarian officials and diplomats told AFP, in a new phase of the nearly year-long war in the country's north.

"Airstrike now in Mekele," one humanitarian official in the city said via SMS to AFP on condition of anonymity, describing attacks also confirmed by a second humanitarian source, two diplomats and a rebel spokesman.

Tigray erupted in conflict last November after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops to topple the region's former ruling party, the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF).

The 2019 Nobel Peace laureate said the move came in response to TPLF attacks on army camps and promised a swift victory.

But by late June the TPLF had regrouped and retaken most of the region including the regional capital Mekele.

Since then the region has been under a de facto humanitarian blockade, according to the UN, which estimates that hundreds of thousands face famine-like conditions.

The US has largely blamed Ethiopian government policies for the blockade, while the government has blamed TPLF incursions into neighbouring regions of Amhara and Afar.

The UN had said earlier that the number of young children admitted to hospital suffering from severe malnutrition in Ethiopia's war-hit Tigray region has doubled this year over 2020 as escalating fighting threatens to further hamper the aid response.

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