Violence escalates on the Sudan-Ethiopian border after the killing last week of seven Sudanese military personnel and a civilian by militias referred to by Khartoum as Amhara.
On June 27, Sudan recalled its ambassador to Ethiopia, denouncing as an execution the killing of its Sudanese military personnel and civilian, whom were first captured and then barbarically murdered by gunmen.
On the same day, the government in Addis Ababa confirmed the killing of the Sudanese, admitting the incident took place on Ethiopian territory, claiming, however, that the seven soldiers and the civilian had been captured after illegally crossing the border, in what the Ethiopian government described as a joint “raid” with the TPLF forces (https://addisstandard.com/news-ethiopia-regrets-sudanese-soldiers-loss-of-life-vows-to-investigate-as-sudan-accuses-it-of-executing-seven-soldiers/).
Ethiopia vigorously rejected the allegations made by Sudan, claiming that no ENDF units were present in the area, and adding how the incident was part of a strategy aimed at derailing relations between the two countries (https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20220629-alarm-mounts-over-escalating-ethiopia-sudan-border-tensions).
Also blaming the Amhara Special Forces for the responsibility of the executions and the regional crisis, albeit from a different perspective, was TPLF spokesman Getachew Reda, who on July 1 during an interview openly blamed the Amhara state regional government for the violence, claiming how the killing was part of a specific design aimed at seizing the fertile lands of the al-Fashaga region. Lands that the previous Ethiopian government – when the TPLF was still in power in Addis Ababa – had expressly recognized as part of Sudanese territory (https://borkena.com/2022/07/02/getachew-reda-tplf-makes-sudan-amhara-forces/).
Despite Addis Ababa’s call to avoid military escalation, however, the Sudanese armed forces launched a military offensive in the al-Fashaga area the next day, aiming to strike and push back across the border what it claims to be Amhara Special Forces units, making extensive use of artillery and aviation.
The Sudanese military operation enabled the Khartoum army to regain control on June 28 of the Kala-Leban, Tesfai Adawi Hills and Barkhat areas, capturing numerous military personnel-described as part of the federal ENDF-and destroying a large number of troop transport vehicles (https://sudantribune.com/article260803/).
The Ethiopian government confirmed the attack, although without providing details about the outcome of the fighting, while accusing Sudan of using heavy weaponry and aviation.
The escalation of violence along the Sudan-Ethiopian border thwarts the efforts of recent months through which both countries had sought a non-confrontational definition of the unresolved dispute over the al-Fashaga area, claimed by Sudan although long inhabited by Ethiopian farmers.
The military crisis of the last week also seems to confirm the Ethiopian federal government’s difficulties in managing the militias of the regional states, and particularly some Amhara units, which are operating increasingly autonomously and independently in pursuit of political and military objectives that have arisen in the aftermath of the Tigray conflict, posing a serious threat to Ethiopia’s national and, more broadly, regional stability.