Sudan, Ethiopia Forces Exchange Fire at Border After 8 Killed

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(Bloomberg) -- Sudanese and Ethiopian forces exchanged fire at their disputed frontier after Sudanese soldiers were reported killed, an official said, escalating a feud between the African nations that risks turning into all-out war.

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Repeated shelling struck three areas in the contested territory of al-Fashqa on Monday, Alrashed Abdul Gadir, a member of Sudan’s border development committee, said by phone. Reinforcements have arrived from the southeastern Sudanese town of Gedaref, he added.

Sudan’s military leader, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, visited troop positions in al-Fashqa and vowed to protect his country’s land and honor, the army said in a statement. A Sudanese military spokesman declined to comment on further clashes, while a representative for Ethiopia’s army didn’t answer a call seeking comment.

Al-Fashqa, a stretch of fertile plains over which Sudan and Ethiopia have clashed repeatedly in the past two years, is seen as a potential powder-keg in a simmering dispute between the Horn of Africa’s most populous countries. They are also at odds over Ethiopia’s plans to fill and operate a giant dam it has built on a Nile River tributary.

Sudan’s army late Sunday accused its neighbor of abducting seven Sudanese soldiers and a civilian on its territory on June 22, before killing them in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian government said the deaths resulted from a skirmish between a local militia and Sudanese forces that had crossed the two nations’ frontier, rejecting what it called a misrepresentation of the facts.

Ethiopia’s government has promised an investigation into the incident soon. Sudan’s Foreign Ministry said it was recalling its ambassador from Ethiopia for consultations and would summon Ethiopia’s envoy in Khartoum.

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