Rockets fired at Eritrean capital from Ethiopia, diplomats say


ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – At least three rockets were fired at Eritrea’s capital from Ethiopia on Saturday night, five regional diplomats said, a major escalation of an 11-day conflict pitting Ethiopian federal troops against local forces in the northern Tigray region.

At least two of the rockets hit Asmara airport, three diplomats said. With most communications down in Tigray and Eritrea, Reuters could not independently confirm the strikes. Officials on both sides could not be reached.

Tigray’s leader, Debretsion Gebremichael, said on Tuesday that Eritrea had sent troops across the border in support of Ethiopian government forces but provided no evidence.

Eritrea’s Foreign Minister Osman Saleh Mohammed denied this at the time, telling Reuters: “We are not part of the conflict.”

Eritrea and Ethiopia signed a peace deal two years ago, but Isaias Afwerki’s government in Asmara remains hostile to the Tigrayan leadership after its role in a devastating 1998-2000 war.

Late on Friday rockets were fired at two airports in Ethiopia’s Amhara state, which has sent troops into Tigray in support of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, in what Tigray’s ruling party said was retaliation for government air strikes against their region.