ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – The government said two airports in the state bordering Tigray, where Ethiopian troops are fighting local forces, were targets of missile launches late Friday, as the ongoing conflict widened the region for 11 days.
The government said the two targeted airports were in Amhara State. The government said one of them – Gondar Airport – was hit on Friday, while another missile – Bahr Dar Airport – missed the target.
The ruling Tigrayan Party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, said that the Tigrayans Defense Forces fired missiles from two military bases in Bahr Dar and Gondar in response to airstrikes carried out by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s forces in separate areas of the state.
“As long as the attacks on the Tigrayans do not stop, the attacks will intensify,” said Getacio Raza, a spokesman for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, in a statement on the Facebook page of the Tigray State Communications Office.
Mr Abiy sent the Ethiopian Armed Forces in an attack against local forces in Tigray last week, after they were accused of attacking federal forces. Hundreds have been killed in the expanding conflict.
The Prime Minister said that government warplanes bomb military targets in Tigray, including weapons and equipment depots controlled by local forces in Tigray. The government says its military operations are aimed at restoring the rule of law in the mountainous country of 5 million people.
Awok Worko, a spokeswoman for Gondar Central, said that a missile that hit Gondar Airport partially damaged it, while a second missile fired simultaneously outside the airport fell in Bahir Dar.
“The Military Council of the TPLF is using the last weapons in its arsenals,” the Ethiopian government’s emergency squad wrote on Twitter.
Amhara provincial forces were fighting alongside their federal counterparts against Tigrayans.
Johannes Ailey, a resident of Gondar, said that he heard an explosion in the Azzo neighborhood of the city at 10:30 p.m.
Another resident said that the missile destroyed the airport terminal building. The resident added that the area was closed and fire engines were parked outside.
The United Nations, the African Union and others are concerned that the fighting could spread to other parts of Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous country, and destabilize the wider Horn of Africa region.
More than 14,500 people have fled to neighboring Sudan, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said on Friday, where the speed of the new arrivals is outpacing the current capacity to provide assistance.
The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission said it will send investigators to Mai Kadra town in Tigray, where Amnesty International this week reported what it said was evidence of mass killings.