Eritrea: Ethiopia Attacked Us Over Border Dispute

By TOM ODULA Associated Press

NAIROBI, Kenya – The Eritrean government said Friday that the attack on its military outposts by neighboring Ethiopia was meant to divert attention from a border dispute between the two countries.

Ethiopia said Thursday it carried out a ground assault on the outposts because Eritrea was training “subversive groups” that carried out attacks inside Ethiopia.

No details about the military operations or any damage or casualties have been released.

“It is patently clear that the Ethiopian regime could not have unleashed such a flagrant act of aggression with such audacity without the protection and succor of the United States in the Security Council,” said Eritrean Foreign Affairs Minister Osman Saleh.

Eritrea routinely accuses the United States of overlooking abuses by Ethiopia, a key U.S. ally in the region in its war against terror.

“The government of Eritrea, urges for the umpteenth time, the U.N. Security council to shoulder legal and moral responsibilities and to take appropriate measures to rectify acts of aggression against Eritrea’s sovereign territories and to ensure justice and the respect of the rule of law,” he said.

Osman said such attacks have been going on for the last 10 years and Thursday’s assault was meant to divert attention to the fact that Ethiopia occupies Eritrean territory. Ethiopia and Eritrea fought a border war from 1998 to 2000.

He said the timing of the attack appears to have been deliberately chosen to coincide with the tenth anniversary of a ruling by a boundary commission, which it says, ruled in its favor.

Ethiopia said Thursday’s attack was in retaliation to attacks by groups which have been sponsored by the Eritrean government and that European tourists were killed in one of the most recent attacks.

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.

Osman described the killings of the Europeans as deplorable but said Ethiopia is using it as an excuse to launch attacks.

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

Ethiopia’s 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 the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab. Eritrea has denied those accusations.

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