East Africa: News - Ethiopia Regrets Sudanese Soldiers' "Loss of Life", Vows to Investigate As Sudan Accuses It of Executing Seven Soldiers

The Ethiopia-Sudan border is primarily made up of agricultural areas, which are also inhabited by Ethiopian farmers on Sudan's side

Addis Abeba — The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the Ethiopian Government "regrets the loss of life as a result of a skirmish between the Sudanese army and a local militia of which an investigation would be carried out soon."

The statement from MoFA came after Sudan accused Ethiopia's army of capturing and executing seven Sudanese soldiers and a civilian, Reuters reported on June 27. But Ethiopia said "the incident took place within Ethiopian territory after incursions by a Sudanese regular army unit supported by elements of the terrorist TPLF."

Ethiopia also "categorically rejects the misrepresentation of these facts by the Sudanese defense forces that unjustly put the blame on Ethiopia while it was the Sudanese army unit that has crossed into the Ethiopian border provoking the incident," and expressed "hopes that the Sudanese Government would restrain itself from any escalation of the incident and would take measures that could de-escalate the situation."

"The Government of Ethiopia believes that the incident was deliberately concocted to undermine the deep-rooted relations between the peoples of Ethiopia and the Sudan. On top of that, the incident was designed to destruct Ethiopia from its path of peace and development.The Government of Ethiopia, however, remains committed to the principles of amicable resolution of differences among states," the Ministry said.

Skirmishes between the two neighboring countries have become common in recent years over the contested and fertile al-Fashqa border region.

Sudan's foreign ministry, Asma Mohamed Abdalla is quoted as saying about the latest skirmish: "the men had been seized on Sudanese territory on June 22 and taken into Ethiopia where they were killed." According to a Sudanese military official, the soldiers were captured in a border region near the disputed area of Al-Fashaga.

Reports also indicated that whereas the ministry summoned the Ethiopian ambassador in Khartoum, it also called its own ambassador back from Addis Abeba for consultations and it was further said that Sudan was under preparation to file a complaint to the U.N. Security Council.

Sudan's army late on Sunday accused Ethiopia of displaying the bodies in public, Arab news reported . "In an act that contravenes all laws and customs of war and international humanitarian law, the Ethiopian army executed seven Sudanese soldiers and a citizen who were their captives," adding, "This treacherous act will not pass without a response," the military said in a statement.

Since 1902, Ethiopia and Sudan have engaged in a border dispute over a place called al-Fashaga, a swarth of fertile land, which the two countries contend on it following the hazardous demarcation of the place during when Sudan was under the British colonial rule. There have been sporadic clashes between the two countries' forces but the clash has recently escalated when the Sudanese forces claimed full control of the area, displacing thousands of Ethiopian farmers and killing dozens of civilians.

Recently, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Demeke told lawmakers about Ethiopia's determination to settle the border issue with Sudan by pursuing a peaceful path "without inflicting any atrocities," He said, "We are striving to resolve the matter in a peaceful way and Ethiopia will continue in that direction and we want to notify that we're working on that level."

FM Demeke, however, was not limited of accusing Sudan over the al-Fashaga dispute; he accused it of f harboring "terrorist groups and other forces in the name of refugees", whom he accused of "launching attacks on Ethiopia from that direction at various times."

"Their base is in Sudan. Giving such support and being a base for such groups is tantamount to waging war for which we have officially notified..and we're following the matter." But he also said that Ethiopia will continue all its efforts "to resolve it in a peaceful way. In any measurement, we underline that our territory will be brought back," FM Demeke remarked his speech to the parliament.

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