One person was killed in a fresh air strike on Ethiopia’s rebel-held Tigray on Friday, the region’s biggest hospital said, capping a month of renewed clashes between pro-government forces and Tigrayan fighters.
The return to combat on August 24 shattered a March truce and dashed hopes of peacefully resolving the nearly two-year war between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed‘s government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
Authorities in Tigray announced this month they were ready to participate in talks mediated by the African Union (AU), removing a key obstacle to negotiations with Abiy’s government.
But fighting has only escalated in the weeks since, with air strikes pounding the northern region and Ethiopia’s ally Eritrea crossing the border to join the battle against its old foe, the TPLF.
“There was a drone attack this morning around 5:30 am. A 60 year old man was killed,” Kibrom Gebreselassie, a senior official at Ayder Referral Hospital in Tigray’s capital Mekele, told AFP in a message.
— Dr. Kibrom Gebreselassie (@kibrom30) September 7, 2022
“One dead body arrived to Ayder Hospital after a drone attack in Mekelle City around Desta Hotel,” the hospital said on Twitter.
Since the latest clashes broke out, 17 people have died in air strikes in Tigray, including Friday’s fatality, according to hospital officials.
AFP was not able to independently verify the claims. Access to northern Ethiopia is severely restricted and Tigray has been under a communications blackout for more than a year.
Untold numbers of civilians have been killed since the war erupted in Africa’s second most populous country, and grave rights violations by all sides against civilians have been documented.
On Monday, UN investigators accused Abiy’s government of possible ongoing crimes against humanity in Tigray, including using starvation as a weapon of warfare by blocking aid to the region of six million people.
Addis Ababa rejected the report by the Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia, with its permanent representative to the UN in Geneva, Zenebe Kebede, telling AFP that its conclusions were “self contradictory and biased.”
The commission said it had found evidence of widespread violations by all sides.
The TPLF ruled Ethiopia for decades before Abiy come to power in 2018, and Addis Ababa considers it a terrorist group.
Abiy, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, sent troops into Tigray in November 2020 to topple the TPLF in response to what he said were attacks on federal army camps.
But the TPLF recaptured most of Tigray in a surprise comeback in June 2021.
It then expanded into the neighboring regions of Afar and Amhara before the fighting reached a stalemate.