Gov’t confirms clash with insurgents near Ethio-Eritrea border

About thirty armed men were killed and captured after a skirmish near Ethiopian-Eritrean border, according to a statement from the Ethiopian Federal Police today.

The statement came a week after a similar claim by an insurgent group “Patriots Ginbot-7″.

Federal Police’s statement said, “a group of infiltrators, not exceeding thirty, who were sneaking into Ethiopia, had been decimated” without providing details.

The statement did not disclose the specific date of the incidents. Nor did it specify the number of causalities, except that “most of the infiltrators had been killed and the rest were captured.”

The location was described as “in western Tigrai state area adjacent to the Eritrea.”

Photo – West Tigrai, Ethiopia and Eritrea

Though their identity was not released, the adjectives in the statement – “messengers of Eritrea” and “anti-peace elements” – are often used for Eritrea-backed Ethiopian insurgent groups.

The statement resonate a claim made last week by the Eritrea-based group “Patriots Ginbot-7″.

The radio of Patriots Ginbot-7 claimed last weekend that its fighters defeated “a combined force consisting military units, federal police and special forces that barricaded in western Tigrai state” on July 2. Adding that, “more than fifty were killed, sixty were wounded, and the rest retreated.” The group also claimed similar, albeit smaller, incidents took place in the area in the subsequent two days.

The group touted the incident as “a long-awaited whistle pronouncing the start of the freedom struggle.” Apparently indicating that it was the first armed engagement since the formation of the group by the merger of Ethiopian People’s Patriotic Front and Ginbot-7 Movement for Justice, Freedom and Democracy last January. The merger was christened Patriots Ginbot-7 Movement for Justice, Freedom and Democracy” (a.k.a. Patriots Ginbot-7) under the chairmanship of Berhanu Nega (PhD).

Federal Police’s statement, however, downplayed that the incident was “no different from the provocations occasionally conducted by Eritrea’s messenger elements.” Adding that, “it was brought under control with small force and easily”. The statement made no reference to Patriots Ginbot 7 or its claims.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn warned last Tuesday that his government “could be forced to take measures” if Eritrea does not stop its attempts to destabilize Ethiopia and the region.


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