VARIOUS: HEAVY FIGHTING ON ETHIOPIAN-ERITREA FRONTIER IN LATEST STAGE OF UNDECLARED WAR
- Title: VARIOUS: HEAVY FIGHTING ON ETHIOPIAN-ERITREA FRONTIER IN LATEST STAGE OF UNDECLARED WAR
- Date: 9th June 1998
- Summary: MEKELE, ETHIOPIA (JUNE 9, 1998) (RTV) 1. SCU WAVING AND CHANTING MILITIA LEAVING TOWN LOADED ON THE BACK OF TRUCK (QUALITY AS INCOMING) (5 SHOTS) 0.44 OUAGADOUGOU, BURKINO FASO (JUNE 8, 1998) (RTV) 2. MV SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT NELSON MANDELA ARRIVING FOR CONFERENCE STEPPING FROM AIRCRAFT AND GREETING OFFICIALS 0.56 3. SCU MANDELA POSING FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS WITH OFFICIAL AND WALKING TOWARDS BAND 1.08 4. SLV MEDIA AT EXTERIOR OF CONFERENCE BUILDING PAN TO WAITING OFFICIALS/ SCU CAMERAMEN (2 SHOTS) 1.17 5. SCU/MV AFRICAN LEADERS INCLUDING PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT YASSER ARAFAT ARRIVING AT CONFERENCE (3 SHOTS) 1.53 6. SLV MANDELA ADDRESSING CONFERENCE PAN TO AUDIENCE 2.06 Initials Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
- Reuters ID: LVAAB4499DTVCC7U6I20CDQSA2S
- Location: MEKELE, ETHIOPIA / OUAGADOUGOU, BURKINO FASO
- Country: AFRICA Burkina Faso Ethiopia
- Duration: 00:02:07
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None
- Story Text: Heavy fighting has again erupted along the Ethiopian-Eritrean frontier as the feuding neighbours turned their experienced armies against each other in the latest stage of their undeclared war.
Trucks loaded with militia were seen driving towards the border from nearby Ethiopian villages on Tuesday (June 9).
One truck, crammed with heavily armed fighters, left Mekele heading for the battle zone where heavy fighting has been taking place for the last month.
Reuters correspondents on either side of the border reported intense shelling, mortar and tank fire, and saw casualties from both sides being ferried to hospitals.
Ethiopia accused Eritrea of launching a major offensive early on Tuesday, but Eritrea in turn said its neighbour had started the latest battle.
The fighting was concentrated around Zalambessa, the Ethiopian border town around 550 kms (340 miles) north of Addis Ababa and 100 kms (62.5 miles) south of Eritrea's capital Asmara.It lies on the main highway linking the two cities.
Selome Taddesse, the newly appointed official spokeswoman for the Ethiopian government, said Ethiopian troops had repulsed three attacks in the area.
At Senafe, around 25 kms north of Zalambessa in Eritrea, journalists were prevented from travelling further south because soldiers said the situation was too dangerous.
The latest flare-up follows a call by Eritrea for direct talks between the two former friends.
Eritrean President Isayas Afewerki told Reuters in an interview that he had no problem with meeting Ethiopia's Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, but said he feared the conflict would escalate first.
Ethiopia rejected the call, with spokeswoman Selome Taddesse saying there could be no negotiations while Eritrea occupies "part of our territory by force".
She insisted a four-point initiative proposed by the United States and Rwanda must first be put in place.
The proposals call for Eritrean forces to withdraw to positions held before May 6, for the demilitarisation of disputed territory, for the return of civilian administration to those areas and for an investigation into the cause of the conflict.
The row has also posed a pressing diplomatic test for the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), whose annual summit is currently under way in Burkina Faso.
Leaders from most African states have gathered in the country's capital Ouagadougou for the conference.
One of the first to arrive on Monday (June 8) was South Africa's President Nelson Mandela, who retires in 1999.
He said Africa had to find workable ways of taking collective charge of the continent's stability and security.
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- Embargoed:24th June 1998 13:00