Hospital Official: Airstrike Hits Capital of Ethiopia’s Tigray Region

An airstrike wounded at least one person on Tuesday in Mekelle, the capital of Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, a hospital official said, two days after Tigrayan forces said they were ready for a cease-fire with the federal government.

The strike hit the business campus of Mekelle University and Dimitsi Woyane TV station, which is run by the regional government, said Kibrom Gebreselassie, the chief executive officer at Ayder Referral Hospital. He cited a witness who arrived with a man wounded in the strike.

Getachew Reda, spokesperson for the regional government, said on Twitter that the business campus had been hit by drones.

Ethiopian military spokesperson Colonel Getnet Adane and government spokesperson Legesse Tulu did not respond to requests for comment.

The airstrike is the third to hit Mekelle since the nearly two-year-old conflict resumed late last month after a five-month cease-fire. Each side blames the other for the renewed fighting.

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which governs Tigray, said on Sunday it was ready for a cease-fire without preconditions and would accept an African Union-led peace process. 

Diplomats described the offer as a potential breakthrough. The Ethiopian government has not yet officially responded.

Former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, appointed as the AU’s chief mediator, met with the American envoy to the Horn of Africa region, Mike Hammer, on Monday, Djibouti’s former ambassador to Ethiopia, Mohamed Idriss Farah, who was also present, said in a tweet.

The TPLF dominated national politics for nearly three decades until Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power in 2018.

The TPLF accuses Abiy of centralizing power at the expense of Ethiopia’s regions. Abiy denies this and accuses the TPLF of trying to reclaim power, which it denies.

Journalists arrested

The conflict has also repeatedly spilled into the neighboring regions of Amhara and Afar.

Two Amhara journalists who publicly criticized the federal government were arrested last week, according to a police document seen by Reuters. The Amhara region, Ethiopia’s second most populous, has been a key part of Abiy’s powerbase.

Gobeze Sisay, the founder of Voice of Amhara, was accused of supporting the TPLF on social media. Meaza Mohamed, a journalist with Roha Media, was accused of encouraging Amhara people to allow the TPLF to pass through their areas, the police document showed.

“Amhara people, especially those close to the Tigrayan border — we are tired of war,” Gobeze said in a Facebook post a week ago.

Amhara journalists, politicians and militia members were among thousands arrested during a regional crackdown in May; some still remain in prison.

An Ethiopian government spokesperson, the head of the Ethiopian Media Authority and a police spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment.

The Committee to Protect Journalists said last month it had documented the arrest of at least 63 journalists and media workers since the conflict erupted.

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