Rockets fired at Eritrea’s capital as conflict escalates
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.