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Wednesday, October 27, 1999 Published at 15:07 GMT 16:07 UK

World: Africa

Ethiopia 'repels Eritrean troops'

Ethiopia says it has repelled attacks by Eritrean forces in the Badme area - the border region where the war between the two neighbours erupted 18 months ago.

Battle in the horn
Addis Ababa said the attacks were launched near the Jerbert River at the weekend, and that they were repulsed with many casualties on the Eritrean side. There has been no independent confirmation of the report.

"During the two days of battle, over 335 Eritrean soldiers were killed or wounded and various Eritrean military supplies were captured," the Ethiopian Government said. There was no word on Ethiopian losses.

An Ethiopian government spokeman said the front was calm on Tuesday and Wednesday, after fighting died down in the early hours on Monday.

[ image: The front is now said to be calm]
The front is now said to be calm
"This could be an Eritrean attempt to occupy better strategic positions on this front, which they have tried several times to retake since February," he said.

Ethiopia recaptured Badme during a huge offensive in February. Diplomats say Eritrea has made several commando raids in the region, regaining small areas.

Eritrean has said it is committed to exercising maximum restraint to avoid further hostilities with Ethiopia, while reserving the right to act in self-defence.

The special envoy of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which has led efforts to resolve the conflict, is due in the Eritrean capital, Asmara, in an attempt to promote peace.

Eritrea has accepted the OAU's latest proposals.

However, the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, has reiterated that his country cannot agree to them until Asmara withdraws from all territories occupied since the fighting began.

He warned that unless the two countries resolved their differences, there was a real chance the fighting would resume.

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