From News Agencies,
Ethiopia said on Thursday it had carried out an attack inside Eritrea on Ethiopian rebels it says are based and trained there, several weeks after accusing the Eritrean government of planning a kidnapping of Western tourists.
Ethiopia called the missile and ground army attack inside Eritrean territory as an “act of retaliation”.
Government spokesman Shimeles Kemal says Ethiopian ground forces moved 16 kilometers into Eritrea late Wednesday and launched what he called a “successful attack” against a military post used by “subversive groups.”
The places reportedly attacked were Ramid, Gelahbe and Gimbi, some 16km inside south-eastern Eritrea.
Shimeles, speaking at a news conference in Addis Ababa, said the attack did “not constitute a direct military confrontation between armies,” but gave no further details on the operation.
The spokesman downplayed possible retaliation from Eritrea, saying Asmara was not in a position to launch a counter-attack. However, unconfirmed sources from Asmara indicated that Eritrean authorities were meeting to discuss how to respond to the attack.
There has been no word on casualties or damage from the attack, and no immediate comment from Eritrea.
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FRANCE URGES TALKS AFTER ETHIOPIA RAIDS ERITREA
By Expatica France,
France urged Ethiopia and Eritrea to show restraint on Thursday and to find a negotiated solution to their differences after Ethiopian forces carried out a cross border raid.
An Ethiopian spokesman said that his government’s forces had attacked an Eritrean military base on Thursday, claiming that it had served as a rear base for gunmen involved in the killing of five European tourists earlier this year.
“In the night of Wednesday to Thursday the Ethiopian army conducted an operation aimed at destroying three camps in southeast Eritrea,” French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said in a statement.
Valero said the incursion had targeted camps “which Addis Abeba accuses Asmara of using to train rebel groups operating on Ethiopian territory”.
“Following these new events, which come only a few weeks after attacks on foreign tourists in Ethiopia, France expresses its deep concern,” he added.
“France urges both states to avoid military escalation and, more broadly, to avoid raising tension. France believes the only way of resolving the dispute between the two countries is through dialogue and negotiation.”
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ERITREAN GOVERNMENT PONDERING ITS NEXT LINE OF ACTION: ALI ABDU
By VOA News,
Eritrean Information Minister Ali Abdu said Ethiopia’s admission of its military attack is a calculated ploy to divert the international community’s attention from its continuous 10-year occupation of Eritrean territory.
He expressed little surprise that Ethiopia embarked on what he called “a military bellicosity that encroaches on Eritrea’s sovereignty.”
Abdu said Eritrea is not to blame for what he said is Ethiopia’s failure to resolve its internal crisis.
“By its own admission, it’s an aggression against the sovereignty of Eritrean territory,” said Abdu. “The internal crisis in Ethiopia is due to the marginalization and exclusion of minor Ethiopian groups [because] of the regime’s narrow and backward policy of divide and rule being conducted by the Ethiopian regime.”
Ethiopia announced its forces attacked a military base inside Eritrea as an act of retaliation after accusing its neighbor of sponsoring groups that have carried out attacks inside Ethiopia.
Ethiopian government spokesman Shimeles Kemal said Ethiopian troops moved 16 kilometers into Eritrea early Thursday and launched what he called a “successful attack” against two military posts used by “subversive groups.”
Ethiopia has often accused Eritrea of backing rebel groups that attack targets in Ethiopia’s Afar area. But, Abdu said Ethiopia’s accusations that Eritrea supports terrorism are like accusing (inventor) Thomas Edison of supporting darkness.
“We have fought terrorism long ago before it became the talk of the town for politicians… and who are these terrorist subversive groups?” asked Abdu. “Almost all Ethiopians are fighting against the regime for the obvious reason because the regime is pursuing a narrow, corrupted policy, which services a very small family of the elite.”
Abdu said Asmara resists being dragged into “this kind of acrimony and provocation.” He said the Eritrean government is pondering its next line of action.
In its “final and binding” ruling on April 13th 2002, the UN-backed Eritrean and Ethiopian Border Commission awarded the town of Badme to Eritrea. But, Asmara insists Addis Ababa has repeatedly refused to implement the ruling.
Abdu said the UN Security Council has yet to take disciplinary action against Ethiopia’s decision to ignore the ruling for the past 10 years, despite Asmara’s repeated requests.
“We have been asking the Security Council to take serious measures against the Ethiopian regime, which is occupying our sovereign territory. The United Nations has not fulfilled this mandate and has not taken necessary measures,” said Abdu. “The United Nations should take action, legal punitive measures against the Ethiopian regime for its violations against the Eritrean and Ethiopian Border Commission verdict.”
The United States has urged both sides to exercise restraint. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Washington is seeking further clarification from Ethiopia about its intentions.
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ERITREA SAYS WILL NOT RETALIATE AGAINST ETHIOPIA
Eritrea said it will not retaliate after rival neighbour Ethiopia attacked its territory, dismissing charges it harbours armed groups against Addis Ababa as a “base and bogus lie.”
“It is those who do not know the price of war who are hungry to go to war,” Eritrean Information Minister Ali Abdu told AFP by telephone.
“We fought enough for 30 years, and we will never be dragged into war through such hostile provocations as this.”
Ethiopia on Thursday said it attacked Eritrean military bases over the killing of five European tourists on its territory in January, accusing Eritrea of training “hit-and-run terrorists.”
Ali said the charges it supported rebel groups were a lie, instead accusing Addis Ababa of carrying out attacks against Eritrea since the end of their bloody 1998-2000 border war, which left at least 70,000 dead.
The two countries remain at odds over a disputed border town, which was handed to Eritrea by a UN-backed boundry commission, but Addis Ababa has refused to acknowledge the ruling.
Eritrea broke away from Ethiopia and won independence in 1993 after a 30-year struggle.
“The regime has been engaged in such aggressive acts for the last ten years,” Ali said, speaking in the Eritrean capital Asmara.
“We do not support such groups, as these are the products of Ethiopia’s own internal crisis and the result of a policy of exclusion and marginalisation,” he added.
He declined to give details of exactly what the Ethiopians had attacked and the damage that had been caused, adding that reports were still being made.
Two Germans, two Austrians and one Hungarian were killed in the January attack on the slopes of Ethiopia’s famed Erta Ale volcano in the desolate Afar border region. Ethiopian rebels claimed responsibility for the attack.
Thursday’s attack took place 16 kilometres (10 miles) inside Eritrea, according to Ethiopian government spokesman Shimeles Kemal.
Neither Ethiopia nor Eritrea have said what the casualties were on either side.
The United States, a key Ethiopia ally, and France called for restraint and urged the rival states to avoid escalating tensions.
“We are obviously calling on both sides to exercise restraint and to avoid any further military action,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters Thursday.
France on its part urged the rival Horn of Africa states that “the only way of resolving the dispute between the two countries is through dialogue and negotiation,” according to a foreign ministry statement.
Ethiopia and Eritrea routinely accuse each other of backing armed groups to destabilise the other’s regime.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has said his country was ready to help the people of Eritrea topple the regime of Issaias Afeworki, but ruled out a military invasion.
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ERITREA: PROVOCATIVE ATTACKS BY THE TPLF REGIME
As reported, with much bravado, by the news media of the TPLF regime, its armed forces yesterday “penetrated 18 km inside sovereign Eritrean territory to carry out an attack on Eritrean army outposts“. This is not surprising. Nor is it occurring the first time. However, it amplifies the extraordinary situation where the culprit “strikes but cries first” while all along pleading with its protectors to “disarm the victim“.
The timing of the provocative attack seems to have chosen to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the arbitral ruling of the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission. In this sense, it epitomizes the incessant acts of aggression that have and continue to be perpetrated against Eritrea for the last ten years by the TPLF regime with the encouragement of its backers. The objective of the attack, and its audacious publicity, is to divert attention from the central issue of the regime’s flagrant violation of international law and illegal occupation of sovereign Eritrean territories as well as from its myriad internal problems.
The quagmire the regime finds itself enmeshed in due to its reckless acts and wars of regional destabilisation and the failure of its attempts to subdue the Ethiopian people by fomenting ethnic strife and polarization are additional factors that are fueling its aggressive conduct. As we underlined at the time, the recent deplorable “killing and abduction of tourists” has also been misconstrued by the TPLF regime and its backers as a “blessing in disguise” to rationalize its unlawful acts.
The people and Government of Eritrea shall not entertain and will not be entrapped by such deceitful ploys that are aimed at derailing and eclipsing the underlying fundamental issues. This is well-known to the TPLF regime and its backers.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
16 March 2012
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