Ethiopia’s military on Thursday carried out an air strike on the capital of the war-torn Tigray region that a hospital official and rebel sources said killed six people and injured 21 others.
The government said the strike, the latest in a campaign of air bombardments, hit a factory in Mekele used by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
The air force “destroyed the second part of Mesfin Industrial Engineering. The facility was used by TPLF terrorist group for maintaining its military equipments,” said government spokeswoman Selamawit Kassa.
Dr Hayelom Kebede, research director at Mekele’s Ayder Referral Hospital, said a residential area was hit and casualties were inflicted.
“So far six people died and 21 injured. All came to Ayder hospital,” he said.
The Tigrai Communications Affairs Bureau, a TPLF-linked information channel, reported the same toll and said the strike hit a residential area.
Earlier, TPLF spokesman Getachew Reda confirmed the strike on Mekele and said the rebels’ air defense units were engaging an enemy jet.
Much of northern Ethiopia is under a communications blackout and access for journalists is restricted, making battlefield claims difficult to verify independently.
Tigray was pounded by near-daily aerial bombardments last week as the military stepped up its use of air power in the year-long war against the TPLF.
The government said the facilities bombed in northern and western Tigray were military in nature and aiding the TPLF, the former ruling party in the region.
The UN said two strikes on Mekele on October 18 killed three children and wounded several other people. Another person died in a later strike.
Control of the skies, along with superior manpower, is one of the few remaining areas where the federal government holds a military advantage over the rebels.
The bombings have drawn international censure, and disrupted UN access to the region where an estimated 400,000 people face famine-like conditions under a de-facto aid blockade.
Tigray erupted in conflict in November 2020 after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops to topple the TPLF.
The 2019 Nobel Peace laureate said the move came in response to TPLF attacks on army camps and promised a swift victory, but by late June the rebels had regrouped and retaken most of the region, including Mekele.