Ethiopia on Tuesday warned Sudan that it was running out of patience with its neighbor’s continued military buildup in a disputed border area, despite attempts to diffuse tensions with diplomacy.
The decades-old dispute over al-Fashqa, land within Sudan’s international boundaries that has long been settled by Ethiopian farmers, erupted into weeks of clashes between forces from both sides late last year.
“The Sudanese side seems to be pushing in so as to inflame the situation on the ground,” Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Dina Mufti told reporters. “Is Ethiopia going to start a war? Well, we are saying: ‘Let’s work on diplomacy.’”
“How long will Ethiopia continue to resolve the issue using diplomacy? Well, there is nothing that has no limit. Everything has a limit,” he told a briefing in Addis Ababa.
Sudanese Minister of Information and Broadcasting Faisal Saleh said that the country did not want war with Ethiopia, but that its forces would respond to any aggression.
“We fear that these comments contain a hostile position toward Sudan. We ask of Ethiopia to stop attacking Sudanese territory and Sudanese farmers,” he said.
Later, the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned what it called an attack by Ethiopian “gangs” in al-Fashqa on Monday, 5km from the border.
Five women and one child were killed, and two other women who had been harvesting were missing, it said.
On Dec. 31, Sudan said that it had taken control of all Sudanese territory in the area.
Ethiopia said that Sudan took advantage of its forces being distracted by the Tigray conflict to occupy Ethiopian land and loot properties.
The UN said in a report last week on the humanitarian situation in Tigray that there were reports of a military buildup on both sides of the border around the area.
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