Rock­ets fired at Eritrea’s cap­i­tal as con­flict es­ca­lates

San Francisco Chronicle - Late Edition (Sunday) - - WORLD - By Cara Anna

NAIROBI, Kenya — Rock­ets were fired at Eritrea’s cap­i­tal on Satur­day, diplo­mats said, as the deadly fight­ing in Ethiopia’s north­ern Tigray re­gion ap­peared to spill across an in­ter­na­tional bor­der and risked es­ca­lat­ing the con­flict.

At least three rock­ets ap­peared to be aimed at the air­port in Eritrea’s cap­i­tal, As­mara, 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 Nov. 4.

Eritrea is one of the world’s most reclu­sive coun­tries, and no one on the ground, in­clud­ing the in­for­ma­tion min­istry, re­sponded to re­quests for in­for­ma­tion.

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 some 25,000 refugees flee­ing into Su­dan.

Ear­lier Satur­day, the TPLF said it fired rock­ets at two air­ports in the neigh­bor­ing Amhara re­gion of Ethiopia, as the con­flict spreads into other parts of Africa’s sec­ond­most pop­u­lous coun­try and threat­ens civil war in 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 Fri­day, as­sert­ing that Tigray re­gional forces were “re­pair­ing and uti­liz­ing the last of the weaponry within its ar­se­nals.”

Each side in the fight­ing re­gards the other as il­le­gal, the re­sult of a month­s­long fall­ing out amid dra­matic shifts in power af­ter No­bel Peace Prizewin­ning 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 the re­gion’s rulers now must be ar­rested and their well­stocked arse­nal de­stroyed.

The in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity is warn­ing against deadly eth­nic ten­sions. The U. N. of­fice on geno­cide preven­tion has said the rhetoric sets a “dan­ger­ous tra­jec­tory that height­ens the risk of geno­cide, war crimes, eth­nic cleans­ing and crimes against hu­man­ity.”

Cara Anna is an As­so­ci­ated Press writer.

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