Rockets from Ethiopia’s Tigray region hit Eritrea capital: diplomats

Katyusha rockets
Representative Image

Rockets have been fired at Eritrea’s capital, diplomats say, as the deadly fighting in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region appeared to spill across an international border and bring some of observers’ worst fears to life.

At least three rockets appeared to be aimed at the airport in Asmara on Saturday, hours after the Tigray regional government warned it might attack. It has accused Eritrea of attacking it at the invitation of Ethiopia’s federal government since the conflict in northern Ethiopia erupted on November 4.

Eritrea is one of the world’s most reclusive countries and no one on the ground, including the information ministry, could immediately be reached. Details on any deaths or damage were not known. Tigray regional officials did not respond to requests for comment.

Experts have warned that Eritrea, long at bitter odds with the Tigray regional government, or Tigray People’s Liberation Front, could be pulled into Ethiopia’s growing conflict that has killed untold hundreds of people on each side and sent 25,000 refugees fleeing into Sudan.

Earlier on Saturday, the TPLF said it fired rockets at two airports in the neighbouring Amhara region of Ethiopia, as the conflict spreads into other parts of Africa’s second-most populous country and threatens civil war at the heart of the Horn of Africa.

The TPLF said in a statement on Tigray TV that such strikes would continue “unless the attacks against us stop”.

Ethiopia’s federal government said the airports in Gondar and Bahir Dar were damaged in the strikes late on Friday, asserting that Tigray regional forces were “repairing and utilising the last of the weaponry within its arsenals”.

Each side in the fighting regards the other as illegal, the result of a months-long falling out amid dramatic shifts in power after Nobel Peace Prize-winning Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office two years ago.

The Tigray regional government, which once dominated the country’s ruling coalition, broke away last year and the federal government says members of the region’s ruling “clique” now must be arrested and their well-stocked arsenal destroyed.

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