Ethiopian warplanes bombard Tigray as Abiy denies ‘chaos’
(yahoo)—Ethiopia’s air force carried out airstrikes in the northern region of Tigray on Monday, as the prime minister sought to ease mounting concerns that the country is hurtling into civil war.
Abiy Ahmed, winner of last year’s Nobel Peace Prize, last week launched a military operation in Tigray claiming authorities there had attacked two federal military bases, which they deny.
The sudden escalation came after months of tensions between Ethiopia’s federal government in Addis Ababa and the semi-autonomous region of Tigray, whose leaders formerly controlled the government.
Several days of airstrikes have taken place, which Abiy previously said were targeting military assets, in what he terms an operation to restore law and order in a region whose leaders he accuses of seeking to destabilise the country.
“The air force is currently bombarding selected areas in the region,” military official Major General Mohammed Tessema told state media Monday.
He rejected claims by the region’s ruling Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) that they had shot down a warplane as “completely false”.
Reports from the region are hard to verify because of a total communications blackout.
An AFP reporter saw trucks loaded with soldiers heading towards the town of Dansha in Tigray, alleged to be one of the sites where the TPLF attacked a military camp.
In the town itself, a base belonging to the army’s Northern Command appeared under federal control, with police officers posing for photos at the entrance.
The TPLF has claimed that the command — which has many Tigrayan troops — had fallen under its control.
Journalists visiting the base were quickly turned away and forced to leave town because military officials said fighting was occurring nearby, suggesting the area was still contested.
– ‘Concerns unfounded’ –
The international community has expressed concern about the potential for a drawn-out conflict in Africa’s second most populous nation, pitting the powerful federal army against the large, battle-hardened military of the Tigray region.