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UN condemns Ethiopian airstrike on kindergarten

On Friday, an air strike on a kindergarten in the Tigray region ended in the death of four civilians including two children in northern Ethiopia. (File Photo)

The United Nations has condemned an Ethiopian airstrike that “hit a kindergarten” in the northern Tigray region, killing at least four people on Saturday.

“UNICEF strongly condemns the airstrike in Mekele, the capital city of the Tigray Region, Ethiopia,” said UNICEF executive director Catherine Russell on Twitter.

Russell added, “The strike hit a kindergarten, killing several children, and injuring others. UNICEF calls on all parties to agree to an immediate cessation of hostilities.”

The strike on Friday resulted in the deaths of four civilians including two children, according to hospital officials.

However, the Tigrai TV, a local network gave higher number in casualties, raising the death toll to seven including three children. No exact numbers are given as the region is under strict control.

The uneasy five-month truce between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) has been shattered, as fighting between rebels and government forces has intensified along the region's border.

The Ethiopian government denied having any hand in the casualties, emphasizing that government forces only target military sites and accusing the TPLF forces of staging civilian deaths.

However, the TPLF blames the federal government as no other military aircraft are known to operate in Ethiopian airspace.

“This vicious regime has outdone itself with today’s deliberate targeting of a children’s building,” the TPLF read in a statement.

In March, the UN announced more than 300 civilians had been killed in airstrikes "apparently carried out by the Ethiopian Air Force" in the last three months.

The attacks targeted refugee camps, hotels and market. The UN warned that attacks against non-military targets could amount to war crimes.

Ethiopia’s northern region of Tigray has been the scene of conflict since November 2020, when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner, sent troops there to topple the TPLF in response to attacks on army camps. 

The war in Tigray has killed thousands of people, displaced more than two million, and pushed hundreds of thousands into famine-like conditions due to a de facto humanitarian blockade on the northern region.

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