Rockets target Eritrea capital after Ethiopia declares victory in Tigray

The "explosions" -- which the embassy said occurred "at about 10:13 pm" Saturday night-- came hours after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed declared victory in his military campaign against Tigray's ruling party, the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF).

In this file photo, a member of the Amhara Special Forces watches on at the border crossing with Eritrea where an Imperial Ethiopian flag waves, in Humera, Ethiopia, on November 22, 2020.  Picture: AFP

ADDIS ABABA - Rockets launched from Ethiopia's northern Tigray region have again targeted the capital of Eritrea, diplomats told AFP Sunday, while the US embassy in Asmara reported there were "six explosions" in the city.

The "explosions" -- which the embassy said occurred "at about 10:13 pm" Saturday night-- came hours after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed declared victory in his military campaign against Tigray's ruling party, the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF).

They mark the third time Asmara has come under fire from Tigray since military operations began there on November 4, though the TPLF has claimed responsibility only for the first attack two weeks ago.

The TPLF justified that attack by accusing Ethiopia of enlisting Eritrean military support for its campaign in Tigray, something Ethiopia denies.

Two Addis Ababa-based diplomats told AFP that multiple rockets fired Saturday night appeared to have targeted Asmara's airport and military installations, though as with previous attacks it was unclear where they landed and what damage they might have caused.

Eritrea is one of the world's most secretive countries, and the government has not commented on the strikes.

Abiy, last year's Nobel Peace Prize winner, declared Saturday night that military operations in Tigray were "completed" after the army claimed control of the regional capital Mekele.

Thousands have died in the fighting and tens of thousands of refugees have streamed across the border into Sudan.

Tigray has been under a communications blackout throughout the conflict, making it difficult to assess the full toll of fierce fighting that has included multiple rounds of air strikes and at least one massacre that killed hundreds of civilians.

It was also impossible to independently verify Abiy's claim that Mekele, a city of half a million, was fully under federal government control.

Abiy said Saturday that police were working to apprehend the TPLF's leaders, who were not immediately reachable Sunday and whose whereabouts are unknown.

The TPLF has vowed to fight on as long as pro-Abiy forces have any kind of presence in Tigray, and analysts have warned that it could shift gears to adopt insurgency-style tactics.

Download the EWN app to your iOS or Android device.