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Eritrean Attacks Ethiopian Border

June 10, 1998

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) _ Eritrean forces attacked Ethiopia’s biggest border post during a dawn raid today, the government said.

Spokeswoman Salome Tadesse said the attack in northwest Tigray province, on the Badme-Shiraro front at Erde Mattios, started at 6 a.m. She said there were no further details except that the fighting is continuing.

Ethiopia says that Eritrea set off the current border conflict on May 6 when it moved into Ethiopian territory in that region.

The Ethiopians said today’s attack came from Eritrean forces inside Ethiopia.

A languishing peace proposal put forth by the United States and Rwanda includes a recommendation that Eritrea withdraw to positions it held prior to May 6.

Ethiopia accepted the arrangement in principle, but Eritrea said the proposal needed further work.

Eritrea has denied it is occupying any Ethiopian territory although its forces were also reported to be at least six miles inside what has been considered to be the international boundary at Zala Ambessa in northeastern Ethiopia.

The spokeswoman said Eritreans had suffered heavy losses during fighting Tuesday at Zala Ambessa, but she said she had no information on Ethiopian casualties.

According to the spokeswoman, Erde Mattios lies outside the so-called Yirga triangle, a 160-square-mile contested slice of Tigray.

Asked why the Eritreans would be pushing into territory they hadn’t previously claimed as belonging to them according to the Italian colonial boundary drawn up in the 19th century, the spokeswoman replied:

``It is a difficult question to answer from here. They are insane.″

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