By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
June 19, 2016 (ADDIS ABABA) – Asmara government has accused the United States of masterminding the recent border clashes between Ethiopia and Eritrean forces.
- President Isaias Afwerki (AP)
In a short statement issued on Friday, the Eritrean Ministry of Information further accused the U.S. Administration of providing arms to Ethiopia to aid the latter carry out the alleged attack.
Last week, forces of the two rival neighbours engaged in heavy border fighting around Tserona central front, an area about 75 kilometres south of the Eritrean capital, Asmara.
Hundreds of soldiers are reported to have been killed and many more wounded from both sides.
The two sides traded blame over who first sparked the two-day battle which broke out on Sunday.
The latest battle is the most serious military engagement since the 1998-2000 border war which has claimed the lives of an estimated more than 70,000 people.
In the past, Eritrea has repeatedly accused the U.S. of instigating conflict in the region.
Asmara accuses the U.S. of being major role player in instigating conflicts between Ethiopia and Eritrea. It has also accused Washington of having role on its border war with Djibouti.
This time, the Red sea nation has similarly pointed accusing fingers on Barack Obama’s administration.
“Eritrea is aware of Washington’s instigation not only of the attack against Eritrea that the Ethiopian forces launched last Sunday, June 12, 2016 but also in its deployment of weapons along the border for a much expanded offensive,” the statement alleged.
Following the clashes, the United States voiced "grave concern" and called on both sides to exercise restraint and engage in political dialogue.
In a statement issued Tuesday, John Kirby, U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby urged the two arch rivals to cooperate in promoting stability and sustainable peace in the region.
“As both Ethiopia and Eritrea are party to the 2000 Cessation of Hostilities Agreement and there cannot be a military solution, we call for both sides to exercise restraint and engage in political dialogue,” he said.
However Eritrea has downplayed US statement as nothing but “crocodile tears”.
“In the event, shedding crocodile tears and issuing a bland statement by the spokesperson of the U.S. State Department calling on ‘both sides to show restraint’ cannot impress anyone” Eritrea’s statement added.
It added Eritrea will disclose these facts in due time.
In a separate statement Eritrea said it is appalled by the statement of UN Secretary General, Ban-ki Moon for calling on both sides to exercise restraint and refrain from any act or statement that could exacerbate the situation.
“In the circumstances, we find the statement that apportions equal blame to the victim and the aggressor and calls on both sides to show restraint untenable” the statement reads.
“This unfortunate statement can only corrode further the moral authority of the Secretary General’s Office” it added.
The two countries remain at odds over the flashpoint town of Badme which was the source of the two-year long conflict.
The Hague-based Boundary Commission 2002 ruling gave away the disputed town to Eritrea; however, Ethiopia has refused to accept insisting for more talks on implementation.