At least three children were killed and one other person was injured during an airstrike in the capital of the Tigray region in Ethiopia on Monday, the United Nations has said.
A deadly conflict erupted between Tigrayan and Ethiopian government forces nearly a year ago and since November last year, thousands of people have been killed and more than two million citizens have been forced to flee the region.
Tigrai TV, which is controlled by regional ruling party the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), has now accused the Ethiopian government of launching airstrikes on the city of Mekelle on Monday.
Jens Laerke, spokesperson of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), has now reported local health workers saying three children died and another person was injured during the attack.
Mr Laerke told a briefing in Geneva earlier today: “This escalation of the conflict is very alarming.”
Ethiopia’s government spokesman, Legesse Tulu, denied launching any attack at first.
He said: “Why would the Ethiopian government attack its own city? Mekelle is an Ethiopian city.
“Terrorists are the ones who attack cities with innocent civilians in them, not government.”
He then went on to accuse the TPLF of killing civilians in nearby regions.
But the Ethiopian Press Agency, which is state-run, later said that the country’s air force did carry out an airstrike, before adding the aim had been to hit communications buildings in the city.
Mr Tulu has not yet responded to the UN’s report that three children were killed in the attack.
The conflict started after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who was the winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, announced a military offensive to overthrow the TPLF.
He said this was a necessary response to TPLF attacks on military camps.
The UN also recently shared concerns about the conflict resulting in thousands of people facing starvation.
Humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths revealed last month that only 10% of needed humanitarian supplies have been reaching Tigray recently.
He said: “So people have been eating roots and flowers and plants instead of a normal steady meal.
“The lack of food will mean that people will start to die.”
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