ADDIS ABABA: Ethiopia’s air force said on Wednesday it had bombed arms and fuel depots in the northern region of Tigray, as an escalation in fighting prompted thousands more people to seek refuge in neighbouring Sudan.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops and warplanes into the federal state of Tigray last week after a months-long feud with its ruling party, which he accuses of seeking to destabilise the country.
Abiy, last year’s Nobel Peace laureate, said the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) had crossed a “red line” and attacked two federal military bases, which the party denies.
Air force commander Major General Yilma Merdassa said jet fighters had “bombed arms and fuel depots as well as other areas that the TPLF junta has planned to use,” the state-affiliated Fana Broadcast Corporate (FBC) reported.
Alsir Khaled, head of Sudan’s refugee agency in the eastern border town of Kassala, said 11,000 Ethiopians had fled to Sudan this week. The UN refugee agency UNHCR said the number of refugees “is likely to rise sharply” and urged neighbouring countries to keep their borders open.
The agency said it was also deeply concerned for more than 96,000 Eritreans living in four refugee camps in Tigray, as well as for humanitarian workers. “Roads are blocked and electricity, phone and internet are down, making communication nearly impossible. There is a shortage of fuel, and banking services have halted resulting in a lack of cash,” said UNHCR.
Tigray has been under a communications blackout since the military operation was launched on November 4, making it difficult to verify the situation on the ground as both sides make conflicting claims.
Published in Dawn, November 12th, 2020