Sunday, November 28

After urging its citizens to leave the country, Washington warns of the possibility of targeting civil aviation in Addis Ababa

The United States has warned pilots that planes flying from Addis Ababa International Airport in Ethiopia could be directly or indirectly exposed to ground-based or surface-to-air fire, if the country’s escalating conflict approaches the capital.

In its warning, issued on Wednesday, the Federal Aviation Administration cited the ongoing clashes between Ethiopian forces and Tigray People’s Liberation Front fighters.

The FAA’s warning said the Tigray fighters likely possessed a variety of weapons capable of targeting aircraft, including rocket-propelled grenades, anti-tank weapons, low-caliber anti-aircraft artillery and man-portable air defense systems, which could have a range of up to 25,000 feet above ground level. .

The warning was issued a day after the United States urged its citizens to leave the country immediately, as the fighting threatened to escalate further.

The Federal Aviation Administration said there were no reports of disturbances at the airport – which is one of Africa’s busiest – and “there was no indication of intent to threaten civil aviation,” adding that the risk to incoming and outgoing aircraft could increase if Tigray fighters surrounded the capital. .

Siege and accusations

The fighting in Ethiopia began in November 2020, when the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent military forces to the northern region of Tigray. Government forces were accused of besieging the area and preventing the flow of international aid.

Meanwhile, in recent months, Tigray fighters have advanced into the neighboring Amhara and Afar regions. Early this month, they formed an alliance with other rebel groups and threatened to advance into the capital.

Both sides were accused of atrocities during a year of fighting that killed thousands, displaced more than two million people and left hundreds of thousands in famine-like conditions.

The African Union, the United States, and other regional actors have been quick to de-escalate tensions in recent weeks.

Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesman Dina Mufti told reporters that the envoy of the African Union, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and US envoy Jeffrey Feltman are currently in the country.

The international airport in Addis Ababa is a hub for state-owned Ethiopian Airlines, a symbol of Ethiopia’s pre-war status as one of the world’s fastest growing economies.

In recent years, the airline has become the largest and best managed airline in Africa, turning Addis Ababa into a major gateway to the continent. Addis Ababa is also the diplomatic capital of the continent, hosting the headquarters of the African Union.

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