Rockets fired as Ethiopia, Sudan clash again in border row

Wednesday December 01 2021
Sudan-Ethiopia border.

Sudan Army Deputy Chief of Staff Lt-Gen Khaled Abdin al-Shami (left) and other army leaders in the al-Fashqa border region with Ethiopia on December 29, 2020. PHOTO | ANADOLU AGENCY via AFP


Sudan on Tuesday accused Ethiopia, for a second time in the past few days, of threatening its forces and civilians near a tense border section.

The decades-long border dispute is threatening to escalate.

Sudanese army officials said they responded by firing rockets into Ethiopian territory in the early hours of Tuesday. 

While Ethiopia denied that it launched an attack at its border with Sudan, it blamed the border dispute on rebels from the Tigray region.

The Sudanese military official statement said that the Sudanese forces advanced towards Saqi'ah area, east of Barkat Noreen to “clear the area of some pockets of threats and ambushes of the Ethiopian forces, in order to secure the harvest season from any sudden attacks.”

In a statement on Sunday, the Sudanese army announced the killing of six of its members and the wounding of more than 31 officers and soldiers, in an attack in the fertile agricultural area of Al-Fashqa, which it attributed to armed groups and militias linked to the Ethiopian army.


However, in statements broadcast by official media on Sunday, Ethiopia government spokesman Legisi Tolo denied reports that the Ethiopian army had launched an attack on Sudan, saying that they were “unfounded”.

“A large group of rebels, bandits and terrorists have entered (from Sudan),” he added. “The Ethiopian National Defence Force and the local militia have eliminated them.”

He said that the Tigray Liberation Front is conducting training in Sudan and receiving support from “foreign sponsors.” 

“There are lands invaded by the Sudanese forces. The government is seeking to settle (the conflict) by a peaceful process through dialogue and negotiation,” he added.

For years, Ethiopian farmers have been cultivating the Al-Fashaqa area, which Sudan says lies within its territory.

In November 2020, as Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent federal forces to Tigray to battle the Tigray People's Liberation Front, Khartoum deployed soldiers in Al-Fashqa in a move that Addis Ababa considered a provocation.

This area borders Amhara region of Ethiopia and has had its border demarcation delayed for nearly a century.

Lt-Gen Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, the Chairman of the Sovereign Council and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, on Monday visited the troops stationed in the Barakat Noreen area, in Al-Fashqa in the state of Gedaref, in the wake of the attacks in the area.

He said Sudan is committed to good neighbourly relations with Ethiopia. However, Sudan will not surrender any part of its land and its troops are ready to defend the country against any provocation, he added.

This disputed area was the scene of bloody clashes last year that left 90 Sudanese soldiers dead, according to an army statement.