What was behind Ethiopia-Eritrea border clash?
The governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea are blaming each other in the weekend's deadly border skirmish that threatens a return to open war between the regional rivals. Ethiopia's Information Minister Getachew Reda described the clashes as "an Eritrean initiative." In a short statement, the Eritrean regime said Ethiopia had "unleashed an attack against Eritrea on the Tsorona Central Front. The purpose and ramifications of this attack are not clear." (BBC News) The independent exile-based Gedab News, which covers Eritrea, says it has received "credible information" that the battle was triggered when a group of Eritrean conscripted soldiers crossed the border to Ethiopia in an attempt to desert, and were shot at by Eritrean troops. Members of an armed Eritrean opposition group hosted by Ethiopia returned fire before Ethiopian soldiers then entered the fray. (Awate.com)
The new fighting comes near the contested town of Badme, which was the scene of 1998 clashes that sparked a two-year war between the two countries. The war left some 250,000 Eritreans displaced and led to the deaths of an estimated 80,000 people from both sides. In 2000, Addis Ababa and Asmara signed a peace agreement brokered by the Organization of African Unity, calling for both sides to withdraw to the positions held before the start of the war and establishing a Border Commission to resolve the conflict. However, when the boundary commission in 2003 ruled that Badme lies in Eritrean territory, Ethiopia refused to recognize the decsion. (Eritrea.be, Global Policy Forum)