Ethiopia: More airstrikes expected in Tigray as ceasefire ends

By Jaysim Hanspal
Posted on Wednesday, 31 August 2022 14:12

Residents and militias stand next to houses destroyed by an airstrike during the fight between the Ethiopian National Defence Forces (ENDF) and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) forces in Kasagita town, Afar region, Ethiopia, February 25, 2022. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

After an air strike hit a neighbourhood in the capital of Ethiopia's northern Tigray region yesterday near the local hospital, the region is preparing for another inbound attack in the area, says one analyst.

Meaza G. Gebremedhin, a human rights activist and International Relations researcher for the US-based Omna Tigray, says she recieved an audio recording on Tuesday morning from a source in Dessie claiming that another jet was flying towards Tigray at that very moment.

Speaking to The Africa Report, she says: “We are expecting there to be another air strike and we also just found out that the Ethiopian government has just opened another assault on the Western parts of Tigray, on the border with Sudan.”

No rest

Monday night’s attack happened just a week after fighting shattered a four-month ceasefire in the country.

According to Kibrom Gebreselassie, Chief Executive Director, Ayder Comprehensive Specialized Hospital in Mekelle, the capital of Tigray, the hospital was attacked by a drone strike 12 hours ago. In his tweet, he said: “There was a drone attack in Mekelle City, close to midnight. It has bombed the neighbourhood around Mekelle General Hospital. Casualties are arriving to Ayder Hospital.”

Gebreselassie also said the hospital was receiving casualties from an IDP educational centre in Hamiday.

At the moment, the extent of damages and casualties remain unknown, as the region has been under a communication blockade since Ethiopian troops left the area more than a year ago.

Both media and human rights activists have struggled to gain access to the area, with trucks containing aid from the World Food Programme arriving in April 2022, the first permitted in the region since December 2021.

Threats to public spaces

Getachew Reda, spokesman for the Tigray regional government, confirmed on Twitter that at least three bombs were dropped, with the hospital being one of the targets.

“No conceivable military targets […] #AbiyAhmed doing what he does best: killing children & innocent civilians,” he wrote.

“My family live in the areas that are being targeted – all residential areas and very crowded ones. The very thought of hungry people, especially women and children, not being able to run away from the strikes, keep me up at night,” says Gebremedhin, who grew up in the area.

She adds: “We have seen how Abiy Ahmed and his government have continued to use civilians are targets. I’m heartbroken and sad, but not surprised.”

Strikes have continued to target public areas, with an attack last Friday hitting a children’s play area in the region, killing seven people, including women and children.

Attack on media

Analysts and human rights activists have been outspoken about the backlash they’ve received while reporting on the Tigrayan genocide.

On Tuesday, Rashid Abdi, an analyst at Sahan global, posted a translation from the Ethiopian News Agency, that names Abdi and two other journalists whom they call “foreign TPLF terrorists”. The posts run through the careers of each individual, and even include photos as they criticise their coverage of recent events in Ethiopia.

Abdi wrote: “I want [the] world to know if anything happens to me, they should hold Abiy directly responsible.”

“We are being called all sorts of dehumanising names, from ‘witch’ to ‘cancers’, some people would send us scary threats online. The Ethiopian government has used their state media to harass international analysts, from Africa and elsewhere,” Gebremedhin says.

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