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Airstrike hits school in Tigray region in Ethiopia; 7 dead

Aug. 27 (UPI) -- An airstrike targeting the Tigray region of Ethiopia hit a kindergarten, killing at least seven people, including children, officials said.

The strike took place Friday in the city of Mekelle, the capital of Tigray, according to UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell.

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She said the U.N. agency "strongly condemns" the attack.

"The strike hit a kindergarten, killing several children, and injuring others. UNICEF calls on all parties to agree to an immediate cessation of hostilities," she tweeted.

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"Yet again, an escalation of violence in northern Ethiopia has caused children to pay the heaviest price. For almost two years, children and their families in the region have endured the agony of this conflict. It must end."

The New York Times said the strike came two days after Tigray fighters clashed with Ethiopian government forces, ending a five-month cease-fire. Each side of the conflict blamed the other for renewing the violence.

The Ethiopian government released a statement after the attack, vowing to "take action" against Tigray fighters.

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The United Nations said last week that Ethiopia, along with neighboring Kenya and Somalia, are without safe access to water amid a severe drought. Russell warned children in the region are at risk of dying of severe malnutrition and water-born disease.

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"History shows that when high levels of severe acute malnutrition in children combine with deadly outbreaks of diseases like cholera or diarrhea, child mortality rises dramatically -- and tragically. When water either isn't available or is unsafe, the risks to children multiply exponentially," she said. "Across the Horn of Africa and the Sahel, millions of children are just one disease away from catastrophe."

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