Local people and officials of the Tigre People’s Liberation Front (PLLF) told the BBC today that the capital of the war-torn Tigre region of Meghalaya, Ethiopia, was hit by airstrikes.
Ethiopian federal forces have been fighting LTTE militants in the north of the country for almost a year.
Canadian Gabriet, a member of the Front’s Central Committee, told the BBC Tigrinya that Monday morning’s bombings had targeted two parts of the city.
The first strike hit the suburb of McClellan at 9:30 a.m. local time, killing three civilians and injuring dozens, Canada said.
The second strike targeted the crowded popular market, causing dozens of injuries.
People in the area informed the BBC about the airstrikes. Social media users posted photos showing the devastation caused by the strikes.
However, since the mobile phone network in Tigray does not work, it is difficult to verify the charges independently.
In a comment to Reuters news agency, the Ethiopian government today denied any involvement in the bombing of the city of Magellan, accusing it of “pure slander”.
“There is no reason to plan to attack civilians in McGale, a part of Ethiopia, and in the homeland of our citizens. This is pure slander,” Legisi Tolo, head of the state communications service, told AFP.
Dolo told Reuters, “It was the terrorists who attacked the civilians along with the cities.” He accused the Tigre People’s Liberation Front of killing civilians in fighting in the vicinity of Tigre.
The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry has accused the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry of trying to cover up what it described as attacks on civilians in the two border areas of Tigris, Amhara and Afar.
The ministry said in a statement that the Tigris People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) had issued a false statement last week calling for the international community to be protected from the government’s “prepared” attack.
But Kedachev Reda, a spokesman for the Tigre People’s Liberation Front, said the bombing was aimed at killing as many civilians as possible as it was market day in Mikhail.
Referring to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abi Ahmed, he released a tweet saying, “Abe Ahmed’s air force sent his warplanes to attack civilian targets inside and outside Meghalaya.”
One of the airstrikes hit a market behind the Planet Hotel in the city at noon local time, Michael told Reuters residents.
“I was a few meters away and I thought they had bombed our apartment complex,” he said.
A doctor in the area told Reuters he had heard of the attack since Monday morning: “First I heard the sounds of planes and the sound of explosions in the distance.”
He continued, “In the afternoon I heard another sound that sounded closer than the other. And this sound was like coming from within the city.”
Air strikes have been reported in Meghalaya for the first time since the conflict began, although airstrikes have taken place in other parts of Tigray.
Fighting broke out between the Ethiopian army and the Tigre People’s Liberation Front in Tigre last November, the political party controlling the region, killing thousands and forcing more than two million people to flee.
The front forces were initially defeated and defeated, but they returned to capture most of the region in July and marched on neighboring areas in the provinces of Amhara and Afar, resulting in the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people.
One week ago, Front forces claimed that the Ethiopian army had launched a ground offensive to evacuate Amhara. On Thursday, the army admitted that heavy fighting had taken place there, but accused the Front’s forces of initiating it.
Diplomats in the region are concerned that the renewed fighting could further destabilize Ethiopia, home to 109 million people, and deepen the famine in Tigre and its environs.
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