Saturday, December 4, 2021

US warns pilots to fire weapons as war nears Ethiopian capital

NAROBI, Kenya (NWN) — The United States is warning pilots that aircraft operating at one of Africa’s busiest airports are “direct or indirect from ground weapons fire and/or surface fire” as part of the Ethiopian war. from exposure to fire in the air”. Near the capital Addis Ababa.

A Federal Aviation Administration advisory issued on Wednesday cites “ongoing clashes” between Ethiopian forces and fighters in the northern Tigre region, which have killed thousands in a year of fighting. The US this week urged its citizens in Ethiopia to “go now”, saying there should be no hope of an Afghanistan-style evacuation.

Addis Ababa International Airport is home to state-owned Ethiopian Airlines, a symbol of Ethiopia’s former status as one of the world’s fastest growing economies before the war. In recent years the airline has grown to become Africa’s largest and best-managed carrier, turning Addis Ababa into the gateway to the continent. Addis Ababa is also the diplomatic capital of the continent as the home of the African Union.

The FAA advisory states that there are no reports of disruption at the international airport and “no indication of an intent to endanger civil aviation”, but does say that the arrival and departure of aircraft if Tigre fighters surrounded the capital. risk may increase.

Tigre fighters are likely to have a variety of anti-aircraft capable weapons, including “rocket-propelled grenades, anti-tank weapons, low-caliber anti-aircraft artillery, and man-portable air-defense systems” or MANPADS, which reach can. 25,000 feet above ground level, the FAA advisory says.

In acknowledgment of the importance of the Bole airport to travel across the African continent and beyond, Britain’s Africa Minister Vicky Ford told reporters last week that the UK now advises against all travel to Ethiopia other than the airport for departures and transfers. Is.

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Tigre forces, which had long dominated the national government before the current prime minister Abiy Ahmed took office in 2018, have approached Addis Ababa in recent weeks and another armed force aimed at pressuring Abiy to isolate. The group has joined with the Oromo Liberation Army.

Tigre forces also say they are pressuring the Ethiopian government to lift a month-long blockade on the Tigre region, which includes an Ethiopian government ban on flights over the Tigre. No food, medicine or other humanitarian aid has entered Tigre, a region of nearly 6 million people, for more than a month since Ethiopia’s military resumed air strikes for the first time since June.

Efforts by the AU envoy, former Nigerian President Olesgun Obasanjo, and US envoy Jeffrey Feltman continue to provoke the warring sides to agree to a ceasefire and talks.

Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesman Dina Mufti told reporters on Thursday that both Obasanjo and Feltman were in Ethiopia, but did not give details. He said it was not yet clear what the au envoy, who is to lead the effort, was proposing and described Obasanjo’s recent visits to the Tigre regional capital as a “fact-finding” mission.

Ethiopian Airlines caught the world’s attention in 2019 when a Boeing 737 MAX crashed shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa, killing 157 people. That and the earlier crash of another brand-new 737 MAX off the coast of Indonesia had far-reaching consequences for the aeronautical industry as it brought about the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX jet by the end of last year.

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