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The BBC's Peter Biles in Addis Ababa
"It was an opportunity for Ethiopians to congratulate themselves"
 real 28k

The BBC's Martin Dawes
"The numbers of displaced are staggering"
 real 28k

Sunday, 28 May, 2000, 22:30 GMT 23:30 UK
Eritrean refugees flee more fighting
Celebrations in Meskel Square
Ethiopians believe their army has won
Thousands of new refugees have left their homes in southern Eritrea, as Ethiopian troops continue to push beyond the disputed border region.

Ethiopians have meanwhile been massing in the centre of their capital, Addis Ababa, cheering, chanting and singing in a huge victory celebration.



The ninth anniversary... commemorating the overthrow of the Dergue dictatorial regime, accompanied by yet another resplendent victory converging on this day

Ethiopian President Gidado Negassa
Ethiopia declared victory in the border war on Thursday, after capturing the disputed town of Zalambessa, but has said it will continue to attack the Eritrean army until all Eritrean troops have been withdrawn from disputed areas.

Peace talks are scheduled for Monday.


Eritrean refugee child
At least 18,000 new refugees have been registered in the last day
Some 18,000 refugees were registered in 24 hours in the town of Dubarwa, just south of the Eritrean capital Asmara, with more expected to follow during the course of Sunday.

The grounds of a secondary school in Dubarwa have been turned into a temporary camp, to which refugees have been brought in lorries laid on by the Eritrean authorities.

Hundreds of thousands of people have already been displaced since fighting resumed just over two weeks ago.

Fighting

The most recent fighting has been around the towns of Senafe, Tsorona and Adi Kwala, north and west of Zalambessa.

Eritrea accused Ethiopia of bombing a new power station at Hargigo near the Red Sea port of Massawa - well away from the disputed border area.


Eritrean soldiers near Adi Kwala
Eritrean soldiers are continuing to resist the Ethiopians
The Ethiopian Government said late on Saturday that fighting was also continuing around Bure in the east - the one area where Ethiopia believes Eritrean troops remain in Ethiopian territory, despite a pledge to withdraw.

The Organisation of African Unity says Eritrea has begun to pull its troops out of the Bure area, and the withdrawal should be completed by Monday.

Celebrations

The celebrations in Addis Ababa were intended both to mark what the Ethiopians see as a military victory in the war against Eritrea, and the ninth anniversary of the toppling of the Dergue regime led by Mengistu Haile Mariam.


Ethiopian soldiers
The Ethiopian army is prepared to continue fighting
A military band paraded through the Ethiopian capital's Meskel square, as an Ethiopian fighter jet performed a series of low victory rolls to the delight of the crowd below.

President Gidada Negaso addressed the crowd, speaking of his "profound joy at this event which affords us to celebrate the ninth anniversary of the 28 May victory day, commemorating the overthrow of the Dergue dictatorial regime, accompanied by yet another resplendent victory converging on this day".

Our correspondent in Addis Ababa, Peter Biles, says there is a strong feeling in the city that despite the continuing fighting, the war is virtually over and Ethiopia has achieved its aims.

Ethiopian and Eritrean representatives are due in Algiers on Monday for indirect talks.

Peace plan

The Eritreans have accepted a plan drawn up by the Organisation of African Unity which calls on the Eritrean army to withdraw to the positions it held before the war broke out in 1998.

The international community has called on Ethiopia - which now occupies substantial areas of indisputibly Eritrean territory - to do the same.

Ethiopia, however, says it will negotiate but continue fighting at the same time.

Ethiopia has said it will not withdraw from Eritrea until it is satisfied that Eritrea has pulled back from the area around Bure - but insists that its troops have no intention of permanently occupying parts of Eritrea.

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See also:

26 May 00 | Africa
Ethiopians mark key victory
25 May 00 | Africa
Celebrations in Addis Ababa
25 May 00 | Africa
Peace at last?
26 May 00 | Africa
Eritrea's 'tactical retreat'
26 May 00 | Africa
Neighbours lament Horn war
28 May 00 | Media reports
Ethiopian president hails victories
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