The Sudanese army on Saturday announced the death of “several” of its soldiers in an attack by Ethiopian forces in the disputed area of Al-Fashaga, stirring up a flammable border conflict.
“Our forces protecting the crops in the area of Al-Fashaga near Barakat Nourein suffered an attack by the Ethiopian army and militias aimed at intimidating farmers and sabotaging the harvest season,” the Sudanese army said in a statement.
The Sudanese soldiers, who “repulsed the attack”, “suffered significant human and material losses”, she continues, without specifying the number of dead in her ranks.
Contacted by AFP, the Ethiopian authorities have so far not reacted.
This clash revives the border conflict between Addis Ababa and Khartoum around the fertile lands of the vast region of El-Fashaga, in the state of Gedaref (east), which constitutes an important and ancient stumbling block between the two countries of ‘East Africa.
Clashes – sometimes fatal – occur regularly in the area, escalating last year with the war between the Ethiopian federal government and the authorities in neighboring Tigris, which has forced tens of thousands of Ethiopians to take refuge in eastern Sudan.
Although Ethiopian farmers settled in the El-Fashaga area for decades, Sudanese troops did not deploy there until after the outbreak of the conflict in Tigray, to “reclaim the stolen territories”.
And despite many rounds of negotiations, Sudan and Ethiopia, which have been opposed for more than 10 years on the issue of the Great Renaissance Dam (Gerd) built by the latter on the Nile, have never yet managed to reach an agreement on the course of their border.
Set to become the largest hydroelectric facility in Africa, the Gerd is another source of concern for Khartoum as well as for Cairo, both downstream on the river, which fear a drop in their water supply.
This rise in tensions comes at a particularly delicate time for Sudan, shaken a little over a month ago by a military coup, which has reshuffled the cards at the top of the state.