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Wednesday, 17 May, 2000, 20:48 GMT 21:48 UK
War of words in the Horn
Ethiopian soldier takes aim
The two sides have also been exchanging verbal fire
The renewed hostilities between Ethiopia and Eritrea have led to a fresh war of words between the two countries, with each accusing the other of lies and deceit. BBC Monitoring samples the claims and counter-claims:

Eritrea has moved quickly to counter Ethiopia's claims that its forces have penetrated deep into southwestern Eritrea and are fighting for control of strategic towns in the region.



The victory that Ethiopia has been boasting about is proving illusory

Eritrean military spokesman

Military commanders quoted by Eritrean media have spoken repeatedly over the past few days of a "ghastly massacre" of Ethiopian forces on the Mereb-Setit front.

"The heroic Eritrean defence forces continue to inflict heavy losses on the enemy while resolutely defending their positions as fierce fighting continues," according to Eritrean state radio.

An Eritrean Foreign Ministry statement carried by government-controlled media said that "thousands" of Ethiopian troops had been killed as they were ordered into "human wave attacks" against Eritrean positions.

"The victory that Ethiopia has been boasting about is proving illusory," an Eritrean military spokesman said.

He added that the Ethiopian goal of a quick victory was "mind boggling, in light of the experience of the past two years, and the fighting of the past four days".


Ethiopian soldier
Ethiopia says its forces are advancing
Eritrea also blamed the Ethiopians for the failure of recent peace talks in Algiers under OAU mediation: "In preparation for its impending war of aggression, the [Ethiopian] regime did not only obstruct the OAU peace process for the last nine months, but it also made progress impossible at the proximity talks in Algiers by refusing to respect key provisions of the OAU peace plan," an Eritrean statement said.

Ethiopia has angrily rejected claims of "human wave" attacks by its forces. It said Ethiopian casualties so far had been "limited" while Eritrean troops had suffered heavy losses.

"Having no regard for the standards of civilized conduct among nations, the rogue regime in Asmara is continuously insulting the intelligence of the international community by attempting to manipulate them with its blatant lies," it said in a statement published on its official web site.



Unfortunately...it is in Eritrea's nature to be a rogue state

Ethiopian government

"The Isayas Government is currently attempting to deceive the international community by claiming nonexistent victories, asserting that it has killed 25,000 Ethiopian troops when it is unable to resist destruction from Ethiopian attacks," the statement said.

It said Ethiopian forces were not relying on frontal attacks. "Rather than attacking from the front, the Ethiopian ground forces penetrated from the sides, breaking the weak links in the chain of Eritrean trenches, and then attacked the Eritrean troops from the rear."

On the diplomatic breakdown, Ethiopia said the Algiers talks had "completely collapsed because of Eritrea's intransigence".

"Unfortunately, given that it is in Eritrea's nature to be a rogue state, such defiant behaviour is not surprising," it said, accusing Asmara of an "almost pathological tendency to lie".

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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See also:

16 May 00 | Africa
More Eritreans rushed to front
16 May 00 | Africa
Battles rage in Eritrea
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