The leader of Ethiopia’s Tigray region told Reuters on Sunday that his forces bombed the airport in Eritrea’s capital Asmara on Saturday evening, confirming earlier reports from diplomats of a major escalation in a 12-day old conflict in Ethiopia.
Tigray’s President Debretsion Gebremichael also said that his forces have been fighting Eritrean forces “on several fronts” for the past few days. He did not specify where but did say Eritrean forces were deployed and fighting along Ethiopia’s border.
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched a military offensive in the restive Tigray northern region on Nov.4. Eritrea’s government has denied involvement in the conflict.
Eritrea and Ethiopia signed a peace deal two years ago, but President Isaias Afwerki’s government remains hostile to the Tigray leadership after their role in a devastating 1998-2000 war.
There was no immediate comment from the Ethiopian government on Debretsion’s claim of the strikes on Eritrea.
A member of his party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), had on Saturday threatened to attack Eritrean targets.
The Tigrayan leader also told Reuters that ground fighting is raging “on several fronts” and that the displacement of civilians is increasing.
Abiy accuses the TPLF, which rules the mountainous region of more than five million people, of treason and terrorism and says his military campaign will restore order. He won a Nobel Peace Prize for a 2018 peace pact with Eritrea.
The United Nations refugee agency said on Friday that the fighting in Ethiopia had prompted more than 14,500 people to flee into Sudan so far.