Eritrea and Ethiopia: military denies attack on Ethiopian town

Since 2015 more than 1,000 people have been killed in incidents of ethnic cleansing and war crimes Two women flee the town of Degla after Ethiopian warplanes bombed it. Photograph: Abdiwagan Issa/AP Heavy gunfire…

Eritrea and Ethiopia: military denies attack on Ethiopian town

Since 2015 more than 1,000 people have been killed in incidents of ethnic cleansing and war crimes

Two women flee the town of Degla after Ethiopian warplanes bombed it. Photograph: Abdiwagan Issa/AP

Heavy gunfire rang out and several communities were reportedly burning each other’s houses after a government airstrike hit an Ethiopian town in the long-troubled north-western Ethiopian region of Tigray, the military said.

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Since 2015 more than 1,000 people have been killed in incidents of ethnic cleansing and war crimes.

Local reports claimed at least two people were killed in Friday’s attack and the WHO said that four or five people were also seriously injured.

The Ethiopian army says aircraft carried out an attack on Degla, five miles from Eritrea’s border, after gunfire and a confrontation between soldiers led to the death of a man and his wife.

An AFP journalist, who visited the site, said his first impressions were of intense firing and a nearby vehicle exploding. Shops and homes were smouldering and residents were running for cover.

Tigray – Ethiopia’s breadbasket – has been split by the 20-year border dispute with Eritrea. Riots and clashes are now common with the military killing hundreds of civilians, including young boys and girls.

Eritrea was forced into exile, joining the ranks of the UN security council. Ethiopia is isolated internationally and says it has to defend its citizens who are hunted by Eritrean soldiers and bandits.

“The terrorist forces … are still present in both countries,” the government said, adding that the UN security council was “liable to be held responsible for any resultant turmoil in the region”.

Reports of the attack came one day after the UN’s high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, accused the Ethiopian government of carrying out a “terrible and extensive human rights abuses” in the region.

“The authorities of Ethiopia, Eritrea and the region face a stark choice – allow peace to blossom or drive an already awful situation into a perilous abyss,” he said.

The Ethiopian military announced on its official Twitter feed that the air strike killed terrorists linked to Somalia’s Shebab militant group. It added that no civilians were hurt.

The announcement came hours after Ethiopian troops seized control of border towns in the area controlled by the Shebab.

Rights groups accuse Ethiopia of retaliating against the Shebab for its attacks against government troops and border police.

Also on Friday, Somalia’s army shelled a military camp in the south of the country, killing at least 16 al-Shabaab fighters, the group’s spokesman told Reuters.

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