Ethiopia conflict: Two cities near Tigray hit by rockets; rights commission to investigate ‘mass killings’

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched a military campaign against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) last week, after accusing the regional rulers of attacking a government military base in the region.

The Ethiopian government has accused local fighters loyal to the ruling party in the northern Tigray region of targeting two airports with rocket fire in the neighbouring state of Amhara, sparking fears that the ongoing conflict could soon spread to other parts of the country, AFP reported.

“In the late hours of Nov. 13, 2020, a rocket was fired towards Bahir Dar & Gondar cities. As a result, the airport areas have sustained damages,” a government statement read. “The TPLF (Tigray People’s Liberation Front) junta is utilising the last of the weaponry within its arsenals.”

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched a military campaign against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) last week, after accusing the regional rulers of attacking a government military base in the region. Over 10,000 Ethiopian refugees have already poured into the neighbouring nation of Sudan since the in-fighting first broke out, Reuters reported.

The domestic conflict in Ethiopia comes after several smaller conflicts that have been festering for months. Observers say that the conflict first escalated in September, when Tigray — a region known to be wealthier than other parts of the country — held local elections in insubordination of the Ethiopian federal government.

Here are the top updates on the conflict in Ethiopia

Ethiopian Human rights Commission to investigate reports of mass killings of civilians

Days after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced that the national military had defeated local forces in Tigray, the country’s human rights commission has said that it will send a team to investigate reports of mass killings of civilians in the area. Hundreds of people are believed to have died in the violent conflict that broke out between the federal government and the regional rulers of Tigray over the last two weeks, the BBC reported.

Prime Minister Ahmed has accused local forces controlled by Tigray’s leaders of the massacre, according to the BBC. But the head of the region Debretsion Gebremichael told AFP news agency that Ahmed’s allegations were “baseless”.

Ethiopia appoints new leader of contested Tigray region

The Ethiopian parliament appointed a new head of the conflict-ridden Tigray region, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Friday. Mulu Nega has been named the new Chief Executive of the region, Deutsche Welle reported.

The federal government has accused the regional leaders of treason and terrorism and is now working towards installing a caretaker administration. According to Prime Minister Ahmed, the new chief executive will now “appoint heads to lead executive organs of the regional state from political parties legally operating in the region.”

Ethiopian police seeking lists of ethnic Tigrayans: UN report

Ethiopian police have requested a list of ethnic Tigrayan staff from the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) in Amhara region, according to a Reuters report. The local police chief said that they had been ordered to identify “ethnic Tigrayans from all government agencies and NGOs”.

The UN reportedly told the police that they do not identify their employees on the basis of their ethnicity. The Amhara regional police and federal government are yet to comment on the UN report.

‘There is risk that situation can spiral out of control,’ says UN rights chief

Addressing the ongoing conflict in Ethiopia, which has forced tens of thousands to cross the border to escape fighting, UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet said that “there is a risk this situation will spiral totally out of control”.

Calling for an inquiry into the alleged deaths, she said that they “would amount to war crimes” if confirmed. Since internet and telephone services are still suspended in the country, the claims are yet to be verified. But several reports have indicated hundreds of deaths on both sides.

Ethiopia claims conflict in Tigray will end in short time

The Ethiopian government on Friday said that the ongoing conflict in the war-torn Tigray region will end soon as their military offensive against its regional leaders was proceeding successfully, Reuters reported.

“We are on track as planned,” Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen said on Friday, adding that the conflict would end “in a very short period of time”.

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