By Vatican News staff writer
The Ethiopian government carried out two air strikes on the Tigray region within hours of each other on Wednesday, escalating its campaign to weaken the dissident Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in a conflict that has lasted almost one year.
A first airstrike on the Tigrayan capital, Mekelle, came on Wednesday morning.
A second strike hit Agbe in the Tembe region, some 80km (50 miles) west of Mekelle, targeting a military training centre and heavy artillery depot, said government spokesperson, Legesse Tulu.
Wednesday’s airstrikes – the third in one week – comes after three children were killed and one person was injured in airstrikes on Mekelle on Monday.
People injured, buildings damaged
TPLF-run Tigrai Television said the attack targeted the center of the city, while the government says the offensive was targeted at buildings where the TPLF were repairing armaments.
According to Tulu, the TPLF has “been adept at hiding munitions and heavy artillery in places of worship and using ordinary Tigrayans as a human shield.”
News sources say that the Wednesday blast which shattered the windows of Mekelle General Hospital and damaged several homes, appeared to have targeted a factory complex which the government believes supports the TPLF.
Nine civilians, including a five-year-old child, are being treated at Ayder Referral Hospital for injuries sustained in the strike, according to Tigrai Television.
War in the Tigray region
Ethiopia’s government launched a military offensive against the TPLF in November last year and the fighting has been going on since.
The instability took a dramatic turn in June when a blockade was imposed. Consequently, there has been an increase in the number of people at risk of starvation as inflating food prices have left many families desperate to survive.
The conflict has led to the deaths of tens of thousands of people and has forced millions to flee their homes and seek safer refuge.