Shelling across border between Sudan and Ethiopia stokes tensions

Another Sudanese general visits volatile border region on inspection tour, after recent series of flare-ups

Credit Sudan Military
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A Sudanese border patrol came under mortar fire from Ethiopian forces on Sunday evening, according to a Sudanese military official.

The incident is the latest in a series of flare-ups along the porous border between the two African nations.

The Sudanese patrol, which returned fire, did not suffer any casualties, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

There was no comment immediately available from the Ethiopian side.

The attack is likely to fuel tensions between the two nations amid increasingly hardline rhetoric by political and military leaders on both sides.

At the root of the border crisis are pockets of fertile farmland just inside the Sudanese border which have long been settled by members of Ethiopia’s ethnic Amhara community.

The Sudanese military moved to wrest back control of some of these areas last month. The move led to deadly clashes.

Earlier this month, five Sudanese women and a child were killed by suspected Ethiopian militias near the border. The killings led to an uproar in Sudan. Two more women have been missing since the killings.

Sunday’s flare-up took place in the mountainous Abu Tayoor area, one of the border locations that Sudanese troops regained control of over the past month.

The Sudanese chief of staff, Gen Mohammed Othman Al Hussein, visited the border region on Monday on an inspection tour.

It was not clear whether his travel to the area was linked to the exchange of fire on Sunday night.

His visit was the second by a top Sudanese general in as many weeks.

Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan, Sudan’s head of state and top soldier, visited the border area last week.

He declared the Sudanese military would fight to the last man to protect the country’s territory.

Ethiopia has accused Sudan of taking advantage of its military campaign against separatist rebels in the northern Tigray region to regain control of the border pockets settled by Amhara farmers. It also accused Sudanese forces of infiltrating its territory.  Khartoum denied the charges.

“Sudan does not want to go to war with Ethiopia or any other neighbouring country, but will not surrender a single inch of its territory,” Gen Al Burhan, said last week while addressing senior army officers.

Gen Al Burhan heads the 11-member Sovereignty Council that has acted as the country’s collective presidency under a power-sharing agreement between the generals who removed long-time ruler Omar Al Bashir in April 2019 and the pro-democracy movement that orchestrated months of street protests against the former president’s rule.