Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, often labelled as Africa’s Kim Jong-un due to his dictatorial regime, is believed to have placed his troops on high alert after intense clashes broke out in the border region between his country and Ethiopia. The fighting was one of the worst in more than a decade in the Horn of Africa region raising fears of a fresh war.
According to the local daily awate.com, Afwerki, who has been ruling the tiny African nation since it gained independence from neighbouring Ethiopia in 1991, has instructed the forces in the border region to expect a renewed offensive from the former colonial ruler.
Ethiopia and Eritrea – both bitter arch-rivals – have remained at loggerheads for several years. The clashes broke out suddenly over the weekend and it is still unclear what caused the fighting or who started it. Both countries blame each other for this round of violence.
The death toll in the clashes is yet to be ascertained though an Ethiopian government official told the AFP news agency that there are “significant casualties on both sides”. The volatile border region remains tense though the fighting has halted in the past few hours.
A military source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Horn Affairs that the Ethiopian troops have captured a strategic location of a mountainous chain, which forms a natural defence, in the area.
In an earlier statement, the Eritrean information ministry said: “The [Ethiopian] regime has today, Sunday, 12 June, 2016, unleashed an attack against Eritrea on the Tsorona Central Front. The purpose and ramifications of this attack are not clear. The Government of Eritrea will issue further statements on the unfolding situation.”
Heavy artillery and troops presence was reported in the region previously.