U.S. ‘gravely concerned’ by escalating violence in Tigray following bombing of Mekelle

Asked when would the sanctions President Joseph R. Biden Jr. authorized on September 17, 2021, would be imposed against those undermining peace efforts in Ethiopia, Price said, "Well, we have been very clear that we are prepared to use every tool at our disposal until and unless the various parties change their course."

The United States remains ‘gravely concerned’ by escalating violence in northern Ethiopia, an official said on Monday, after the Ethiopian government launched two airstrikes on Mekelle, the regional capital of Tigray.

“Well, we’ve seen these reports of an attack on the capital in Mekelle. We are in the process of looking into them,” U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters in Washington D.C. on before the Ethiopian government claimed responsibility for the raids. “We, broadly speaking, do remain gravely concerned by what has been escalating violence for some time. That includes the expansion of fighting in northern Ethiopia and in regions throughout the country, and, of course, the growing risk that that fighting poses to the integrity of the Ethiopian state. Not only does it pose a risk to the state, it undermines critical efforts to keep civilians safe, and importantly, to deliver humanitarian aid to Ethiopians who are in dire need of such support.”

Ethiopia’s state-run news agency said the airstrikes had targeted communications and weapons facilities of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. The TPLF, which has been at war with the Ethiopian government since last November, said at least three civilians had been killed in the attacks.

Department Spokesperson Ned Price holds the Daily Press Briefing at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on October 14, 2021. [State Department Photo by Freddie Everett/ 
Department Spokesperson Ned Price holds the Daily Press Briefing at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on October 14, 2021. [State Department Photo by Freddie Everett/

Price, the U.S. State Department spokesperson, said the Biden administration continues to “urge all parties to end hostilities immediately, and for the Ethiopian Government and the TPLF, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, to enter into negotiation without preconditions toward a sustainable ceasefire. We continue to believe that a sustainable ceasefire will help establish conditions for a dialogue that is credible, a dialogue that is inclusive, and to find a political settlement to the longstanding political grievances that have led to the conflict.”

“Moreover, as we’ve said before, the Government of Eritrea must immediately and permanently withdraw its forces from Ethiopia, consistent with the comments already made by both Ethiopia and Eritrea,” he added.

Asked when would the sanctions President Joseph R. Biden Jr. authorized on September 17, 2021, would be imposed against those undermining peace efforts in Ethiopia, Price said, “Well, we have been very clear that we are prepared to use every tool at our disposal until and unless the various parties change their course.”

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed © Donat Sorokin/TASS Host Photo Agency 
SOCHI

“Obviously, the executive order that went into effect in September, I believe it is, does afford the U.S. Government an important tool to hold accountable those who are responsible for the violence, those who are responsible for the suffering of the Ethiopian people. We are absolutely prepared to use that tool and other appropriate tools as might be appropriate,” he added.

Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

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