Ethiopian forces carried out “precision led and surgical air operations” outside of Tigray’s capital Makelle, the government’s emergency task-force said on Tuesday.
The strikes came amid a near two-week long conflict with defiant local leaders, as Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said the three-day surrender ultimatum issued to Tigray special forces and their allied militia was over.
“Following the expiration of this deadline, the final critical act of law enforcement will be done in the coming days,” Abiy wrote on Facebook.
Earlier on Monday, Ethiopia resisted international pressure for mediation in the war in the country’s north as its air force bombed the Tigrayan capital Mekelle.
This is what happened when an airstrike hit Makelle in Tigray, Ethiopia on Tuesday. pic.twitter.com/zM6lBdGyj4
— BBC News Africa (@BBCAfrica) November 18, 2020
Hundreds have died, 25,000 refugees have fled to Sudan and there have been reports of atrocities since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered air strikes and a ground offensive on November 4 against Tigray’s local rulers for defying his authority.
But Africa’s youngest leader, who won a Nobel Peace Prize last year, has so far resisted pressure for talks to end a conflict that has spilled into neighbouring Eritrea and threatened to destabilise the wider Horn of Africa.
Ethiopia’s air force dropped bombs in and around Mekelle on Monday, four diplomatic and military sources told Reuters.
Ethiopia’s task force said earlier that federal troops had “liberated” Alamata from the TPLF.
The Tigray flare-up could jeopardise the recent opening up of Ethiopia’s economy, stir ethnic bloodshed elsewhere around Africa’s second most populous nation, and tarnish the reputation of Abiy, 44, who won his Nobel for pursuing peace with Eritrea.
The TPLF, which governs the region of 5 million people, has accused Eritrea of sending tanks and soldiers over the border against it.
Eritrea denies that.
Tigray forces fired rockets into Eritrea at the weekend.