Three rockets were fired Saturday at the Eritrean capital, Asmara, diplomats said, hours after the leaders of Ethiopia’s Tigray region warned it might attack.
The rockets appeared to be aimed at the capital’s airport. Information about damage or deaths was not available, and Tigray regional officials did not respond to requests for comment.
On Tuesday, Debretsion Gebremichael, the leader of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), accused Eritrea of sending troops across the border in support of Ethiopian government forces, which Eritrea’s Foreign Minister Osman Saleh Mohammed denied, telling Reuters: “We are not part of the conflict.”
Eritrea has long been at odds with the TPLF, experts said, and they fear it could be drawn into the conflict between the TPLF and Ethiopia’s federal government.
Late Friday, Tigray fired rockets at two airports in the nearby Amhara region, the Ethiopian and Tigray regional governments said.
In a statement on Tigray TV, the Tigray regional government said attacks would continue “unless the attacks against us stop.”
The federal government confirmed the attacks, saying in a statement, “A rocket was fired towards Bahir Dar & Gondar cities. As a result, the airport areas have sustained damages.”
The Ethiopian army has been battling local forces in the neighbouring northern Tigray region for more than a week. Hundreds have been killed since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent the national defence force into Tigray November 4, after accusing local forces there of attacking a military base.
More than 14,500 Ethiopians have fled to Sudan, and the U.N. refugee agency says more people are on their way.
On Friday, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet expressed alarm at the rapidly deteriorating situation in Tigray.
Her spokesman, Rupert Colville, said Bachelet was particularly disturbed by an Amnesty International report of alleged mass killings in the town of Mai-Kadra in southwest Tigray.
Amnesty said photographs and videos of the scene indicated hundreds of people had been stabbed or hacked to death. It said the victims appeared to have been day laborers, who were not involved in military operations.
The Tigray People’s Liberation Front denied that scores or hundreds of people had been “hacked to death” in Mai-Kadra.
Colville said the high commissioner was fearful of the consequences if Tigray and Ethiopia failed to heed her warning.
If fighting continues, he said, Bachelet feared the conflict could easily spill across borders, potentially destabilising parts of East Africa.