Nairobi – Ethiopia’s war-torn Tigray was hit by an air strike on Wednesday, local officials said, its second bombing in as many days which came shortly after authorities in the rebel-held region said they were ready for a ceasefire.
The attack struck a residential neighbourhood in the regional capital Mekele, “killing and wounding innocent civilians”, tweeted Getachew Reda, spokesman for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which has been fighting Ethiopia’s government for nearly two years.
He did not provide details of the casualties, but the bombing injured at least two women, said Fasika Amdeslasie, a surgeon at Ayder Referral Hospital, the biggest in Tigray.
“One was inside her compound and the other just at the gate of her compound going out,” he said on Twitter.
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 over a year.
The reported attack followed a drone strike on Tuesday on Mekele University, which the TPLF said caused injuries and property damage.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government has not commented on this week’s reported bombings.
Tigray has been hit by several air strikes since fighting resumed in late August between government forces and their allies and TPLF rebels in northern Ethiopia.
The return to combat shattered a March truce and dashed hopes of peacefully resolving the war, which has killed untold numbers of civilians and triggered a humanitarian crisis in northern Ethiopia.
Both sides have accused the other of firing first, and fighting has spread from around southern Tigray to other fronts farther north and west, while also drawing in Eritrean troops who backed Ethiopian forces in the early phase of the war.
On Sunday, the TPLF said it was ready for a ceasefire and would accept a peace process led by the African Union, removing an obstacle to negotiations with Abiy’s government.
The international community has urged the warring sides to seize the moment for peace.
Addis Ababa is still yet to officially comment on the overture by Tigrayan authorities, which dominated national politics for nearly three decades until Abiy came to power in 2018.
Abiy’s government has declared the TPLF a terrorist group, and considers its claim to authority in Tigray illegitimate.
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.
Abiy, a Nobel Peace laureate, sent troops into Tigray in November 2020 to topple the TPLF in response to what he said were attacks on federal army camps.