Ethiopian troops at­tack Eritrea to re­tal­i­ate for rebel strikes

The Washington Times Daily - - World - BY LUC VAN KE­ME­NADE

AD­DIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA | Ethiopian forces en­tered archri­val Eritrea on Thurs­day and car­ried out what a gov­ern­ment spokesman de­scribed as “a suc­cess­ful at­tack” against mil­i­tary posts.

Spokesman Shime­les Ke­mal said Ethiopia launched the at­tack be­cause Eritrea was train­ing “sub­ver­sive groups” that car­ried out at­tacks in­side Ethiopia.

Ethiopia and Eritrea fought a bor­der war from 1998 to 2000. Ten­sions have reignited be­tween the coun­tries in re­cent months.

No de­tails about the mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions or any dam­age or ca­su­al­ties were im­me­di­ately re­leased.

The “Eritrea gov­ern­ment has con­tin­ued launch­ing at­tacks at Ethiopia through its proxy groups. The at­tacks had con­tin­ued. And the re­cent at­tacks against Euro­pean tourists is one of the rea­sons for the re­tal­i­a­tion,” Mr. Shime­les said.

Mil­i­tants at­tacked Euro­pean tourists from five na­tions trav­el­ing in Ethiopia’s arid north in Jan­uary. Five tourists were killed and two were kid­napped. The two kid­napped Ger­man tourists have since been re­leased.

Ethiopia blamed gun­men from Eritrea for the at­tack.

The at­tacks Thurs­day by Ethiopian forces took place about 10 miles in­side Eritrea’s ter­ri­tory in ar­eas called Ge­lakalay and Gim­bina, Mr. Shime­les said. The Ethiopian forces have re­turned to Ethiopia, he said.

“To­day’s mea­sures do not con­sti­tute a di­rect mil­i­tary con­fronta­tion be­tween the two coun­tries. The Ethiopian de­fense force has en­tered into Eritrea and launched a suc­cess­ful at­tack against mil­i­tary posts that have been used to or­ga­nize, fi­nance and train the sub­ver­sive groups,” Mr. Shime­les said.

Mr. Shime­les said it was un­likely that Eritrea would re­tal­i­ate be­cause it is “not in a po­si­tion to launch a coun­ter­at­tack.”

Eritrea’s am­bas­sador to the Ad­dis Ababa-based African Union, Girma As­merom, didn’t im­me­di­ately respond to phone calls seek­ing com­ment.

The bor­der war be­tween the two coun­tries killed about 80,000 peo­ple. Re­cent signs have pointed to grow­ing ten­sion in the re­gion.

Ethiopian Prime Min­is­ter Me­les Ze­nawi told the coun­try’s par­lia­ment in April that his gov­ern­ment would ac­tively sup­port Eritrean op­po­si­tion groups to help top­ple that coun­try’s regime.

Ethiopia also blamed Eritrea for schem­ing bomb at­tacks on sev­eral tar­gets in Ad­dis Ababa dur­ing an African Union sum­mit in Jan­uary 2011.

Eritrea doesn’t re­ceive for­eign aid and is sanc­tioned by the U.N. be­cause of hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions. U.N. re­ports have in­di­cated that Eritrea has sup­ported So­ma­lia’s top mil­i­tant group, the al Qaeda-linked al-shabab. Eritrea has de­nied those ac­cu­sa­tions.

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