An airstrike on a children’s playground has left at least seven people dead in the capital of Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, the first attack following the collapse of a four-month-old ceasefire this week.
Regional officials said three children were among the dead, but a federal government spokesperson denied any civilian casualties.
The airstrike on Mekelle on Friday took place two days after fighting recommenced between the national government and Tigrayan forces on the border of the Tigray and Amhara regions, breaking the fragile ceasefire brokered between the two sides in April.
Tigrai Television, controlled by the regional authorities, blamed the federal government for the strike, pointing out that they controlled the only military aircraft operating in Ethiopian airspace.
The Ethiopian government warned residents of Tigray to stay away from military facilities, saying it intended to “take actions to target the military forces”.
Kibrom Gebreselassie, chief executive of Ayder hospital, said his hospital had received four dead, including two children, and nine wounded. He said the strike had hit a children’s playground.
Some media reports have referred to the site as a kindergarten. It is unclear if there were any military facilities nearby.
Federal government spokesperson Legesse Tulu said reports of civilian casualties were “lies and fabricated drama” and accused Tigrayan authorities of “dumping body bags”.
Tulu denied government strikes hit civilian facilities and said they only targeted military sites.