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Ethiopia's government denies using famine as a weapon in Tigray

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ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP or licensors


Ethiopia's Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen Hassen on Friday denied reports that the Ethiopian government was "using hunger as a weapon of war" to punish the people of Tigray.

"There is absolutely no reason for us to do so", he told reporters in Addis Ababa.

The comment came the day after a bridge crucial to delivering desperately needed food to much of the region was destroyed, according to an aid group, as Tigray fighters were said to be approaching other combatants occupying large areas nearby.

Tigray has the world’s worst hunger crisis in a decade, with the United States saying up to 900,000 people face famine conditions in a situation it calls “entirely man-made.

Aid groups were looking into reports of other key bridges destroyed.

Meanwhile, Ethiopia's government has prohibited aircraft to fly below 29,000 feet within the airspace over Tigray, according to a U.S. Federal Aviation Administration notice posted Wednesday.

Mekonnen Hassen said Ethiopia's government would engage in "inclusive dialogue" with rank and file members of the TPLF (Tigray People LIberation Force) in a bid to achieve peace in the war torn region.

The Tigray forces, emboldened after retaking the regional capital this week in a stunning turn in the eight-month war with Ethiopia's military, have taken control of key towns this week, and several thousand fighters had been seen to be moving west.

Ethiopia's government, under pressure amid some of the fiercest fighting of the war, earlier this week declared an immediate and unilateral cease-fire.

The cease-fire is limited; Ethiopia's government has said it will last only until the end of the crucial farming season in Tigray, which means September.

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