By Elias Meseret | AP
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethiopia’s military was provoked into launching this week’s attack on Eritrean forces in a disputed border area, a government official said Tuesday.
Eritrean forces fired into Ethiopian positions Sunday, leading to a counter-offensive by Ethiopian troops, government spokesman Getachew Reda told reporters.
There was a “major military engagement” between Eritrean and Ethiopian forces that lasted until Monday, he said.
“I hope this time around they won’t make that stupid mistake of inviting us to wage a full-scale war,” Reda said.
He did not provide details about casualties.
Eritrea said Sunday that Ethiopian troops had attacked its position in the Tsorona Central Front, a border area between the two countries that saw one of the bloodiest battles during their 1998-2000 border war.
“The latest incident has indicated that minor incidents in the two countries’ border areas can easily escalate into a full-scale war,” said Seyoum Teshome, a lecturer at Ethiopia’s Ambo University.
Ethiopia and Eritrea have no diplomatic relations and often accuse each other of supporting opposition groups across the border.
United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon has urged both countries to exercise restraint.