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Fighting Erupts in Ethiopia-Eritrea Border War

The Associated Press
Friday, June 11, 1999; 3:06 p.m. EST

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia Ethiopian and Eritrean forces clashed Friday in a second day of heavy fighting on the westernmost front of their 13-month border war on the Horn of Africa.

Reports from both countries said battles had also broken out Wednesday at Bure on the eastern front, 50 miles west of the port of Assab. That skirmishes reportedly ended by Thursday.

Each government blamed the other for initiating the fighting and claimed to have inflicted heavy casualties on the other side.

Ethiopian spokeswoman Selome Tadesse said fighting continued Friday in the western Badme region after Eritrea launched a fresh offensive the day before.

Ethiopia seized Badme in February, nine months after losing the border post to Eritrean forces at the beginning of the war.

"Eritrean forces attacked Ethiopian positions in the northwestern part of the border Thursday morning in Eritrea's continued attempt to recapture Badme," Selome said.

The Eritrean Foreign Ministry blamed Ethiopia for initiating the fighting both at Bure and Badme.

It said 47 Ethiopians had been killed and 100 wounded in "low intensity" fighting at Bure.

Selome said the Bure clashes lasted only a few hours, and Ethiopia repulsed the Eritreans and inflicted "heavy casualties."

Ethiopia and Eritrea have been fighting over disputed parts of their 620-mile border since May 1998. Tens of thousands of soldiers and hundreds of civilians have been killed and more than half a million residents on both sides of the border have been driven from their homes.

Mediation efforts by African countries, the United Nations and the United States have so far failed to bring resolution to the crisis which has spilled over into other Horn of Africa countries.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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