Ethiopia accused Sudan troops of killing civilians during recent skirmishes in a contested area near the border between the two nations.
Authorities said Sudan troops had engaged civilians in the farming lands of the al-Fashqa region, which lies on the border. Ethiopia officials said the Sudan military launched “organized attacks” killing “many civilians.”
Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry said Wednesday most of the victims were farmers and most had their properties looted by Sudan troops. Sudan hasn’t responded.
Last week, Sudan Foreign Minister Omar Qamar al-Din said that they had taken control of most of the disputed territories in the al-Fashqa area. He did not elaborate. Al-Din said that the country was using “diplomatic channels” to resolve the territorial dispute.
Foreign diplomats who have been following the conflict said that Sudan troops moved into the area after Ethiopia pulled out its federal troops to support the campaign in the Tigray region. Several Ethiopian ethnic Amhara militia groups who have claimed ownership of the area – including parts within Sudan – have mobilized.
The Atlantic Council’s Africa Center said the renewed aggressiveness of the groups could spark further conflict – including armed conflicts that may displace more Ethiopian civilians.
Sudan currently claims large portions of the area, which it said was demarcated under colonial-era treaties in the early 1900s. The country has allowed Amhara farmers to stay and live on the lands as long as they pay taxes and follow Sudan law. Ethiopia recognizes those lands as in Sudan.
The United Nations said that the al-Fashqa region had been destabilized by the conflict in Tigray. The organization said refugees have passed through the area to get to Sudan after fighting erupted late last year.
“Some 800 people crossed from Ethiopia’s Tigray region into eastern Sudan in just the first few days of the new year. Latest arrivals tell of being caught in the conflict and being victims of various armed groups,” the U.N. said.
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