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Ethiopia Reports Eritrean Casualties

June 13, 1999

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) _ Ethiopian soldiers killed, wounded or captured 7,800 Eritrean troops in three days of renewed fighting along their disputed border, a government spokeswoman said Sunday.

Selome Tadesse did not give a breakdown of Eritrean casualties, saying only that Eritrean forces had launched an all-out war to seize Badme in Ethiopia’s northwest.

Ethiopia lost the border post to its northern neighbor in May 1998 but recaptured it in February.

Selome said fighting continued Sunday and accused Eritrea of deploying 16 brigades in the Badme front. She did not say how many troops Ethiopia had deployed.

Eritrean officials could not be reached for comment Sunday, but state-owned television said the previous night that Eritreans had killed 2,300 Ethiopians and wounded another 4,200. Eight Ethiopian soldiers were taken prisoner, the broadcast said.

It said Eritreans had destroyed five Ethiopian tanks and shot down a helicopter gunship. The broadcast gave no casualty figures for Eritrean forces.

Ethiopia and Eritrea have been fighting over disputed parts of their 620-mile border. 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.

Ethiopian forces have recently penetrated deep into southern Somalia in an effort to combat Ethiopian rebels who have allied themselves with powerful Somali warlord Hussein Aidid.

Eritrea has reportedly sent large shipments of arms and ammunition to Aidid and the Ethiopian rebels in recent months.

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