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Tensions escalate as Sudanese forces gather near Ethiopian border

Tensions on the border of Ethiopia and Sudan are escalating following troop pile up by Sudanese Rapid Support Forces along the borderlines of Ethiopia and Sudan.

It was reported this week that a militia from the Ethiopian side attacked Sudanese forces patrolling the border area killing people, apart from damaging property.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Sudanese army said “During the return of our forces from combing the area around Jabal Abu Tayour inside our territory, they were ambushed by Ethiopian forces and militias inside Sudanese territory, as a result of which lives and equipment were lost.”

Some reports further indicated that four officers were killed and a dozen were wounded.

The incident happened three days after PM Abdullah Hamdok visited Ethiopia and met his counterpart Abiy Ahmed (PhD) in Addis Ababa. This visit was originally said to last two days but was cut short. Although there were claims that Hamdok’s visit to Ethiopia was shortened because of disagreements with his counterpart, he told reporters afterwards that his stay in Addis was successful and attained its set objectives.

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Tweeting on the matter, PM Abiy Ahmed said his government is closely following the incident that involved local militia along the Ethio-Sudanese border.

“Such incidents will not break the bond between our two countries as we always use dialogue to resolve issues,” Abiy wrote, adding, “Those fanning discord clearly do not understand the strength of our historical ties.”

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Immediately after the reports of the incident, Egypt’s Foreign Affairs Ministry denounced the attacks and issued a statement offering its solidarity with the Sudanese forces.

“Emphasizing its full solidarity with the brotherly Sudan, and its right to protect its security and sovereignty over its territories,” the statement said adding, “Egypt follows with great concern these serious developments and their impact on the security of the region and stress the need to take all possible measures not to repeat such events in the future against our brotherly Sudan.”

It is not a new development that Egyptians have interest in security events that concern Ethiopia. In the immediate week following the military operations in Tigray region, Egyptian president Abdel Fettah El-Sisi visited South Sudan. In addition, the Sudanese and Egyptian forces conducted their first joint military drill in Sudan.

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Such incidents in the Ethio – Sudanese border are not new, especially in Humera and the surrounding areas where there is a vast expanse of agricultural land claimed by both the Sudanese and Ethiopians residing in that vicinity.

A recent report by Al Jazeera talked to one military official from Sudan who said that they had already occupied areas claimed by Ethiopian farmers while the Ethiopian government was busy handling the operation in Tigray and vowed to fight not to lose those occupied areas.