Ethiopia and Eritrea are blaming each other for a border clash that inflamed long-running tensions between the East African neighbors and caused an unknown number of casualties.
Both sides claimed the upper hand in the fighting, which took place Sunday and Monday in the area of Tsorona, an Eritrean town that was a flashpoint during the border war the countries fought between 1998 and 2000.
Eritrea said an Ethiopian attack was “repulsed” with the Ethiopians taking heavy casualties, while Ethiopia said its forces seriously weakened the ability of Eritrea’s army to launch further attacks.
Neither side specified the number of those killed or wounded.
Speaking to reporters in Addis Ababa on Tuesday, Ethiopian Communications Minister Getachew Reda said fighting stopped Monday around noon and that Ethiopian forces withdrew from the site of the clash “once our objective was achieved.”
Reda said Ethiopia “chose to avoid a full-scale war” with Eritrea, but the Ethiopian government warned it would respond if Eritrea attacked again.
The U.S. Department of State expressed concern over the military action, calling on both sides to exercise restraint.
“We also urge both Ethiopia and Eritrea to cooperate in promoting stability and sustainable peace in the region,” U.S. Department of State spokesman John Kirby said in a statement Tuesday.
UK government calls for both countries to engage peacefully to end dispute over the border.
Following reports of clashes, James Duddridge, Minister for Africa, said: The British Government is concerned over recent reports of fighting between Ethiopian and Eritrean forces along the border near Tsorena.
The UK calls for both countries to exercise restraint and to adhere to the terms of the Algiers Agreement. Ethiopia and Eritrea should engage meaningfully in political dialogue to seek a resolution to the ongoing border issues.