Nine dead in escalating Djibouti-Eritrea clash

June 12, 2008

Djibouti hosts French and U.S. military bases and is the main route to the sea for Eritrea’s arch-foe Ethiopia.

Africa’s youngest nation, Eritrea has fractious ties with the West, which accuses it of backing Somali insurgents and impeding U.N. peacekeepers on the Ethiopia border.

“The fighting is still ongoing. The dead and injured are more today, up to nine dead and 60 wounded,” said a Djiboutian military official, on condition of anonymity.

Djiboutian state media said the Red Sea state had captured 100 Eritrean prisoners.

There was, however, no independent verification of events from the remote border area that has long been a source of tension between the two countries.

Without confirming or denying the clashes, Eritrea has dismissed Djibouti’s versions as “concocted animosity.”

“The Eritrean government … will under no circumstance get involved in an invitation of squabbles and acts of hostility designed to undermine good neighbourliness,” it said.

The clashes erupted on Tuesday after a nearly two-month face off along their frontier. Djibouti accuses Asmara of entering its territory to build defences.

“The Republic of Djibouti will valiantly defend its territorial integrity by all means,” said Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Guelleh as he visited wounded soldiers on Thursday at a military hospital.
source reuters