Ethiopian federal government forces have launched an air raid on Mekelle, the capital of Ethiopia’s embattled Tigray region, for the second time this week.
It was not immediately known if there were any casualties from Wednesday’s hit.
The air raids mark a sharp escalation in the near yearlong conflict in northern Ethiopia pitting government forces and their allies against the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), Tigray’s once dominant governing party.
A government spokesman confirmed the latest raid, telling news agencies that it targeted “facilities that TPLF have turned into arms construction and repair armaments sites”.
The TPLF-controlled Tigrai Television reported the attack targeted the city centre. It posted photographs of what appeared to be plumes of billowing smoke.
A humanitarian source in Mekelle told Reuters news agency the air raid was in 05 Kebelle, an area near a cement factory on the city’s outskirts. Separately, the AFP news agency quoted a Mekelle resident as saying that an industrial site had been destroyed in the air raid.
“It was heavy and the jet was so close,” the resident said. “It has burned the whole compound. We don’t know the casualties but now the whole company is burned to ash.”
The attack came two days after Ethiopia’s air force confirmed air raids in Mekelle that a witness said killed three children. The air force said communications towers and equipment were attacked.
Mekelle had not seen fighting since June, when Tigrayan forces retook much of the region in a dramatic turn in the war. Since then, fighting has intensified in two other Ethiopian regions – Amhara and Afar – where the federal government’s military is trying to recover territory taken by the TPLF.
International pleas to stop the fighting, which has so far killed thousands of people and forced more than two million to flee their homes, have failed.