Monday, 26 March 2012
Ethiopia and Eritrea trade accusations over border clash
Ethiopia and Eritrea are continuing to blame each other for a recent border clash which raised concerns of a resumption of conflict in the Horn of Africa.
The violence occurred on 15 March, when Ethiopian troops crossed the disputed boundary and attacked three Eritrean military bases around 18km inside Eritrean territory. The Ethiopian military said that the attack occurred because of Eritrea's support for “subversive groups”. Government spokesman Shimeles Kemal claimed that the incursion did not represent a direct military confrontation.
Eritrea responded by claiming that the attack was intended to distract attention from the countries' ongoing border dispute. The boundary has been undefined ever since their war between 1998 and 2000, which left 70,000 dead without resolving the border. The village of Badme, which was the cause of the war, remains under Ethiopian control despite being awarded to Eritrea by an international tribunal.
The two states remain at loggerheads over the border as well as the situation in Somalia, where they support different sides in the country's civil war. However Eritrea has said that it will not retaliate for the latest incursion, saying that it did not want another war (analysts believe that Eritrea lacks the military capabilities to stand up to Ethiopia).
Asmara has also accused the US of being behind the incursion, a common charge in the region. The US denied the charge.
The latest raid is not an isolated incident. The last few months have seen repeated clashes and border skirmishes, in which several have been killed and some Ethiopians allegedly abducted by Eritrean forces.
Sources: BBC, Guardian