Peter Heinlein, VOA | Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Ethiopian troops have carried out a cross-border attack against military training camps inside Eritrea.
Government spokesman Shimeles Kemal says Ethiopian troops crossed into Eritrea early Thursday to strike military outposts used by what he calls ‘”hit-and-run” subversive groups operating in the remote region.
“The Ethiopian National Defense Force has entered into Eritrea, 16 kilometers from the border of Ethiopia, and launched a successful attack against military posts that have been used by subversive groups organized, supported, financed and trained by the Eritrean government,” said Shimeles.
The two camps targeted in the attacks are along Ethiopia’s northeastern border, near where a group of European tourists were attacked in January. Five of the tourists were killed, and two others were taken captive. A little-known Ethiopian rebel group released the two captives last week.
Spokesman Shimeles indicated the camps had been used by the rebels.
“Certainly these camps, these military posts were used by anti-Ethiopian forces launching attacks inside Ethiopia, similar with the recent attack taken against European terrorists,” he said.
Shimeles gave few details of the incursion, other than to indicate there had been no clash between Ethiopian and Eritrean troops.
“Today’s measures do not constitute a direct military confrontation between the two armies, the armies of the two countries,” added Shimeles.
The Ethiopian spokesman said he did not anticipate any retaliation from Eritrea.
“We know for certain the Eritrean Defense Force is not in a position to launch a counter attack against Ethiopia, and if they do so, the result would be disastrous,” he said.
An Eritrean diplomat in Addis Ababa told VOA he had no immediate response to the incident. The two countries do not maintain diplomatic relations, but Eritrea does have a mission to the African Union, based in the Ethiopian capital.
The two countries fought a two-year border war more than a decade ago that killed 80,000 people.