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Eritreans Bomb Ethiopian Town

June 11, 1998

ADIGRAT, Ethiopia (AP) _ Eritrean aircraft bombed the northeastern Ethiopian border town of Adigrat today, killing at least one person, wounding three and setting grain warehouses on fire, witnesses said.

A helicopter and jet fighters dropped eight bombs near an army base, on surrounding mountains and in an industrial-residential part of the town of 40,000 people, according to an AP photographer and other witnesses.

In the capital of Addis Ababa, Ethiopian government spokeswoman Salome Tadesse said women and children had been killed, but she had no details. The witnesses reported one person dead and three wounded.

Adigrat is nearly 80 miles south of the Eritrean capital, Asmara, and about 15 miles south of the border with Ethiopia.

The attack occurred on the same day that both Ethiopia and Eritrea said fighting had broken out on the border near Eritrea’s Red Sea port of Assab. The fighting comes amid growing international efforts to prevent the border clashes from escalating into a full-scale war.

The two countries in the Horn of Africa have been fighting for control of territory along at least four different points on their common border.

The clash near Assab was the first time fighting has flared near the important Eritrean port, where landlocked Ethiopia comes within 45 miles of the Red Sea.

Before the border dispute erupted into fighting on May 6, Ethiopia exported most of its coffee _ its chief foreign-currency earner _ through Assab. It now uses the port of Djibouti, to the south on the Gulf of Aden.

Fighting also continued in northwestern Ethiopia.

Eritrean rebels fought Ethiopia for 30 years to gain independence. They succeeded in 1993, two years after helping Ethiopian rebels under Meles Zenawi _ who is now prime minister _ oust a 17-year military dictatorship.

Italy colonized Eritrea in 1885 but was defeated in its attempt to conquer Ethiopia as well. Britain assumed control of Eritrea in 1941 and the territory was absorbed into Ethiopia in 1962.

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