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20 Nov 2020 | 04:06 AM UTC

Reports of rocket attack in Bahir Dar (Amhara region) November 20

Ethiopia News Alert

Reports of rocket attack in Bahir Dar (Amhara region) on November 20; further attacks possible

TIMEFRAME expected from 11/20/2020, 12:00 AM until 11/22/2020, 11:59 PM (Africa/Addis_Ababa). COUNTRY/REGION Bahir Dar, Amhara region

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Event

Reports claim that a rocket attack believed to have been conducted by the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) occurred in Bahir Dar (Amhara region) during the early hours of Friday, November 20, amid an ongoing conflict between federal forces and TPLF authorities in Tigray region. Unconfirmed reports suggest that at least two rockets were fired towards the city; however, it is unclear if any injuries or fatalities have occurred. The intended target of the strikes is currently unclear. On November 13, the TPLF carried out a rocket attack which targeted Bahir Dar Airport (BJR).

The incident comes amid claims by the government that federal forces are advancing to close proximity of Mekelle following the elapsing of a three-day deadline set by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for the TPLF to surrender.

Further military clashes are likely in and around the Tigray region in the medium term, with a realistic possibility of civilian harm in major flashpoint areas.

Context

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced that he had ordered a military offensive in the Tigray Region on November 4, after accusing security forces aligned with the regional Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) administration of attacking Ethiopian National Defense Forces' (ENDF) positions in the state. The operation follows two years of escalating tensions between the TPLF and the federal government in Addis Ababa, which they had previously dominated before the appointment of Abiy as prime minister in 2018, amid claims that the region was being marginalized by his sweeping reforms program. However, tensions reached a high point in September when the TPLF staged their own local elections in the Tigray region in defiance of a decision by the government to suspend national polls due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. The federal government subsequently declared the vote illegal and the upper house of Ethiopia's parliament voted to withhold budgetary subsidies to Tigray in early October. Amid the rising tensions, regional authorities had issued a statement on November 3 accusing Addis Ababa of planning a war in the Tigray region.

Although no official casualty figures have been confirmed, fatalities are reported to have rapidly reached the hundreds and have been rising as fighting continues. As well as intense fighting in western areas of the region, particularly around Dansheha and Humera, there have also been allegations of attacks on civilians in some areas. On November 12, rights group Amnesty International claimed that scores of civilians had been killed in the May Cadera area of the Tigray region on November 9, allegedly in a retaliatory attack by retreating TPLF-aligned forces. However, the incident has not been independently confirmed. The TPLF claimed responsibility for rocket attacks which targeted airports in Bahir Dar and Gondar (Amhara region) which occurred on November 13. The TPLF also confirmed that they had fired rockets at the Eritrean capital, Asmara, which targeted Asmara International Airport (ASM) on November 14.

Advice

Those in the Tigray region are advised to monitor developments in their area of operations and liaise with appropriate consular authorities. Travelers should avoid the Tigray Region and northern areas of the Amhara region whilst hostilities continue and heed any directives issued by local authorities.

 

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