At least 10 people have been killed in a second day of air raids on Mekelle, the capital of Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, a hospital official said, in attacks that came after authorities there expressed readiness for a ceasefire.
Twin drone attacks hit a residential neighbourhood, killing 10 people and injuring others, said Kibrom Gebreselassie, the CEO of Ayder Referral Hospital, on Wednesday.
Five of the victims died en route to the hospital, Kibrom said, citing the city’s emergency coordinator, while the others died at the scene of the drone attack in the Midre Genet neighbourhood.
Fasika Amdeslasie, a surgeon at the same hospital, said the first bombing injured two women, followed by a second “drone strike on the people gathered to help and see the victims”.
“Among the victims, a father was dead and his son is taken to surgery”, he said on Twitter.
On Tuesday, Kibrom had told Reuters news agency that a witness arrived at the facility with a wounded man after an air raid.
There was no immediate comment on this week’s bombings by Ethiopia’s federal government, which has been fighting Tigray’s regional government since November 2020.
Kibrom said the hospital was struggling to save the wounded because of supply shortages caused by nearly two years of war.
“There is no oxygen for the operation. I don’t know what to do. Am I to lose every salvageable victim because there is no oxygen or medicine?” he said.
Al Jazeera has not been able to immediately verify the claims, as access to northern Ethiopia is severely restricted and Tigray has been under a communications blackout for more than a year.
The reported attack followed a drone attack on Tuesday on Mekelle University, which the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, which governs Tigray, said caused injuries and property damage
On Tuesday, Getachew Reda, spokesman for the TPLF, said on Twitter the business campus had been hit by drones. He accused the Ethiopian government of being behind the air raid.
#AbiyAhmed’s drones targeted #MekelleUniversity Adi Haki campus. As usual, with #AbiyAhmed & #isaiasafeworki massive offensive in many fronts is crumbling like a house of cards, targeting civilians and civilian installations is their way of exacting revenge.#TigrayWillPrevail!
— Getachew K Reda (@reda_getachew) September 13, 2022
Dimtsi Weyane, a TPLF-affiliated TV network broadcasting in Tigray, said its station was also hit on Tuesday, forcing it off air and “causing heavy human and material damage”.
Tigray has been hit by several air raids since fighting resumed in late August between government forces and their allies and TPLF rebels in northern Ethiopia.
The return to combat shattered a March truce and dashed hopes of peacefully resolving the war. Since November 2020 when Abiy sent troops to Tigray, the conflict has killed thousands of civilians, uprooted tens of thousands, and triggered a humanitarian crisis in northern Ethiopia.
Both sides have accused the other of firing first. Fighting has spread from around southern Tigray to other fronts farther north and west, while also drawing in Eritrean troops who backed Ethiopian forces during the early phase of the war.
TPLF military boss Tadesse Worede on Tuesday said “Eritrean forces are in Sheraro”, a town in northwestern Tigray, where the rebels said they were resisting a major offensive that Ethiopia and Eritrean troops launched earlier this month.
The developments come days after the TPLF said it was ready to take part in peace talks led by the African Union (AU), removing an obstacle to potential negotiations with the federal government.
There was no immediate comment about the announcement from the Ethiopian government, which has long insisted that any peace process must be brokered by the Addis Ababa-based AU.
Until recently, the TPLF had vehemently opposed the role of the AU’s Horn of Africa envoy Olusegun Obasanjo, protesting against his “proximity” to Abiy.
The announcement was made amid a flurry of international diplomacy after fighting flared in August for the first time in months in northern Ethiopia, torpedoing a humanitarian truce.
The international community has urged the warring sides to seize the opportunity for peace, with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, AU Commission chief Moussa Faki Mahamat, and the East African bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), welcoming the offer by “the regional government of Tigray” to hold talks.