- Official says assault occurred in Tserona, in nation’s south
- Two countries have history of trading accusations of violence
Eritrea accused Ethiopian troops of attacking a southern part of its territory near their joint border, the latest in a series of confrontations since the two Horn of Africa nations separated more than 20 years ago.
Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel said by text message that the violence occurred in the Tserona area, about 74 kilometers (46 miles) south of the Eritrean capital, Asmara, without providing further details. Horn Affairs, a website based in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, earlier reported fighting involving heavy artillery between Ethiopian and Eritrean troops at several border locations on Sunday.
Ethiopia’s military took “proportional measures” in response to an Eritrean attack, the pro-government Fana Broadcasting Corp. said on its website, citing the information ministry. “Ethiopia’s next action will depend on Eritrea’s next activities,” the ministry said, according to FANA.
Eritrea achieved independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after decades of armed struggle. The two countries fought again in 1998-2000 over the disputed territory of Badme in a war that left an estimated 70,000 people dead. A United Nations boundary commission ruled in 2002 that Badme belonged to Eritrea. Ethiopia has rejected that ruling and still occupies the town.
While Ethiopia and Eritrea often accuse each other of aggressive acts, a cease-fire dating from the end of the war in 2000 has mainly held, Jared Jeffery, an analyst at Paarl, South Africa-based NKC African Economics, said in an e-mailed note.
“The developing situation deserves close monitoring as the severity of the conflict is, as of yet, unclear, and a return to open war could destabilize both countries and the region,” he said.