Thursday, February 02, 2023 | Rajab 10, 1444 H
clear sky
weather
OMAN
19°C / 19°C
EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

UN condemns Ethiopia air strike that 'hit kindergarten'

People inspect a damaged playground following an air strike in Mekelle, the capital of Ethiopia's northern Tigray region, on Friday. - Reuters
People inspect a damaged playground following an air strike in Mekelle, the capital of Ethiopia's northern Tigray region, on Friday. - Reuters

ADDIS ABABA: The UN on Saturday condemned an Ethiopian air strike on a kindergarten in rebel-held Tigray that killed at least four people, as diplomats urged that civilians not be targeted.


Addis Ababa denied bombing civilian areas in Friday's air raid on the city of Mekele, and accused the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) of staging deaths.


But the UN children's agency Unicef said the strike "hit a kindergarten, killing several children, and injuring others".


"Unicef strongly condemns the air strike," said Unicef chief Catherine Russell.


"Yet again, an escalation of violence in northern Ethiopia has caused children to pay the heaviest price. For almost two years, children and their families in the region have endured the agony of this conflict. It must end."


The bombardment came just days after fighting erupted on Tigray's southern border between government forces and TPLF rebels, ending a five-month truce and dashing hopes of peace talks.


The TPLF said the air strike, the first in many months on Tigray, demolished a kindergarten and hit a civilian residential area.


The government said only military sites were targeted and accused the TPLF of "dumping fake body bags in civilian areas" to maximise outrage.


An official at Mekele's Ayder Referral Hospital told AFP four people died in the strike, including two children, while nine others were injured.


Tigrai TV, a local network, put the death toll at seven, including three children.


The broadcaster aired graphic footage of mangled playground equipment and a compound brightly painted with cartoons in ruins at the apparent scene of the strike.


The claims could not be independently verified as access to northern Ethiopia is severely restricted.


Vicky Ford, the UK's Minister for Africa, said the protection of civilians must be prioritised under international law.


"Reports of civilian casualties following airstrikes on #Tigray are appalling," she said on Twitter on Saturday.


The EU commissioner for crisis management, Janez Lenarcic, echoed calls for international law to be respected.


"Civilians are #NotATarget," he said on Twitter.


WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, himself from Tigray, described the air strike as "barbaric" and "horrifying".


"Children killed in a kindergarten in today's air strike on #Tigray, while the 21-month starvation, deprivation & death of children continue," he posted on Twitter. - AFP


SHARE ARTICLE
arrow up
home icon