“Significant” casualties in Eritrea-Ethiopia clash: Ethiopia AFP June 13, 2016
UPDATE (June 13): Addis Ababa (AFP) – Troops from Ethiopia and arch-rival Eritrea have fought a heavy border battle, the Ethiopian government said Monday, reporting “significant” numbers of casualties, with both sides blaming the other for starting the fight.
“There were significant casualties on both sides, but more on the Eritrean side,” Ethiopian government spokesman Getachew Reda told AFP. He said the battle on Sunday was one of the most serious in recent years, noting that while the two sides had exchanged gun fire in recent years, this clash was on a far larger scale.
In a press statement posted on Shabait, a government website, Eritrea said: “The TPLF regime has today, Sunday 12 June 2016, unleashed an attack against Eritrea on the Tsorona Central Front. The purpose and ramifications of this attack are not clear. The Government of Eritrea will issue further statements on the unfolding situation.”
Counter to the statement by Eritrea, Asmara launched low-level, provocative military attacks one week ago along four fronts, and Ethiopian forces launched counter-offensive on Saturday June 11. Details follow:
MEKELLE, Ethiopia (Ethiomedia; June 12) – An all-out war between Eritrea and Ethiopia broke out on June 11 following Eritrea’s provocative, low-level military attacks that began one week ago, an Ethiomedia reporter in this capital of Tigrai region has reported.
Ethiopian forces have launched a counter-offensive and fighting is raging along Humera, Tserona, Zalambessa and Badme, the source said. The four cited areas are prominent war fronts, though Badme was the flashpoint of the 1998-2000 Ethiopia-Eritrea War for which over over 70,000 soldiers were killed on the Ethiopia side alone.
The latest flare-up of war is attributable to Eritrea’s anger over the latest UN accusation that Eritrean leaders be tried for crimes against humanity for which Asmara believes Ethiopia is the author behind the punitive UN measures.
Despite the ongoing fighting, both Asmara and Addis have remained silent, and no one knows where the latest war will lead to.
Observers approached by Ethiomedia have a shared opinion over the war, however.
|“We fought for Eritrean independence from the colonial rule of Ethiopia. TPLF has paid a sacrifice for Eritrea greater than the combined sacrifice of the two Eritrean organizations – ELF and EPLF. Even if today Eritrea is attacked, EPRDF will jump into Eritrea, join the Eritrean people and engage the enemy.” – Sebhat Nega on Radio Woyane (May 28, 2007).Sebhat is an influential member of the ruling TPLF party, and is known for promoting an anti-Ethiopia agenda. How is a war committee that includes Sebhat-like individuals to lead Ethiopia to victory over the Eritrean regime? So, the latest war with Eritrea could be another exercise in futility for battered Ethiopia.|
he government in Ethiopia will, despite its dismal record over democracy and human rights violations, get the support of the Ethiopian people if and only if its war objective is clear, and that is to reclaim part of the Red Sea, including the Port of Assab, that the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, signed away to Eritrea in 1991.
Skeptics Have Their Doubts
By invoking how the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi aborted the 1998-2000 military victory in favor of Eritrea, skeptics dismiss the idea that there will be a change in outcome to the latest war.
Meles and other leading TPLF leaders used the “Tigrian” card as cover and entirely fought for Eritrean sovereignty, they themselves had set the UN agenda that made Ethiopia landlocked. Though Zenawi is dead, there are Tigrian/Eritrean individuals in key positions who would defend Eritrean sovereignty at the cost of Ethiopia whatsoever.
Unless such elements are removed from TPLF and EPRDF, the war will be either short-lived, or if prolonged, result in more casualties and yet meaningless.
At the start of 1998 unprovoked war of aggression by Eritrea, a call made by Diaspora-based Ethiopians to remove Meles Zenawi and a few other anti-Ethiopia mercenaries in the ruling party fell on dear ears, leading to a costly loss for Ethiopia.
posted by Geremew Aragaw