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Saturday, 3 June, 2000, 09:06 GMT 10:06 UK
Captured village where friendship died
Displaced Eritreans
Most civilians have fled the town
By Ishbel Matheson in the captured Eritrean town of Senafe

By the time we arrived in Senafe on Friday night had fallen.

The only light was from the stars and from the flickering fires built by the troops who were camped out on a rocky outcrop behind Senafe.

I was the first journalist to be allowed into the town since its capture by the Ethiopians.

This small Eritrean settlement, some 20km (12 miles) inside the border, was swarming with Ethiopian soldiers.

Ethiopian soldier on patrol
The town is swarming with Ethiopian soldiers
Ethiopia says it seized Senafe on 25 May after three days of fierce fighting.

The Eritrean forces have been driven more than 20km north, from where, according to soldiers and local people, they are still sporadically shelling the town.

No one is pretending Senafe is anything but sovereign Eritrean territory, but one of the commanding officers said the occupation was merely strategic.

He said it was to protect Ethiopian control of the disputed border land.

Blood spilled

The commander insisted Ethiopian forces would withdraw as soon as there were security guarantees which prevented Eritrea from attempting to regain the territory.

Many of the civilians in Senafe have already fled the fighting, but one 28-year-old woman who remained expressed sadness at the conflict between the former allies.

Blood has been spilled, she said, a lot of blood. Whatever happens now, the friendship between our peoples will never be the same again.


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See also:

01 Jun 00 | Media reports
01 Jun 00 | Africa
31 May 00 | Africa
31 May 00 | Africa
01 Jun 00 | Africa
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