There are growing fears of a civil war in Ethiopia as the defiant Tigray regional government fired rockets at two airports in the neighbouring Amhara region.
As the deadly conflict in Africa’s second most populous country threatens to spread, Tigray’s regional government said such strikes would continue “unless the attacks against us stop”.
Tigray regional forces and the federal government are locked in a battle that human rights agencies say has resulted in hundreds of deaths and potential war crimes.
The international community is warning against deadly ethnic tensions and possible genocide.
Amnesty International said it had confirmed that “scores, and likely hundreds, of people were stabbed or hacked to death” in the town of Mai-Kadra (May Cadera) on 9 November.
More than 14,000 refugees have fled into neighbouring Sudan and raised international alarm about a possible civil war at the heart of the Horn of Africa.
Each side regards the other as illegal, the result of a months-long falling out amid dramatic shifts in power after Ethiopia’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office two years ago.
The Tigray regional government, which once dominated the country’s ruling coalition, broke away last year and the federal government now says its ruling “clique” must be arrested and their well-stocked arsenal destroyed.
The deadly fighting erupted in the northern Tigray region on November 4 and has reportedly killed hundreds on both sides.
The federal government said the airports in Gondar and Bahir Dar were damaged in the air attacks on Friday.
The UN office on genocide prevention has condemned reports of “targeted attacks against civilians based on their ethnicity or religion” in Ethiopia.
The UN warned that the rhetoric set a “dangerous trajectory that heightens the risk of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity”.
Communications and transport links with the northern Tigray region remain severed, making it difficult to verify claims on both sides of the fighting.
Desperate families cannot reach relatives, and the United Nations and other humanitarian organisations warn of disaster as food, fuel and other supplies run short for millions of people.