Addis Ababa alleges troops of Khartoum advanced into the disputed Al Fashqa border region, violating international law, while the latter accuses Ethiopian army of killing civilians inside the Sudanese border.

Tensions have been also augmented by the Tigray conflict that has pushed tens of thousands of Ethiopian refugees to cross into Sudan.
Tensions have been also augmented by the Tigray conflict that has pushed tens of thousands of Ethiopian refugees to cross into Sudan. (TRTWorld)

Ethiopia has alleged Sudanese forces were pushing further into a contested border region that has been the site of deadly clashes in recent weeks, warning that its "peaceful" approach to the dispute "has its limit."

Sudan, however, accused Ethiopia of killing civilians inside its border and warned on Tuesday of an imminent border confrontation. 

Dina Mufti, a spokesperson for Ethiopia's Foreign Ministry, said that Sudanese forces were advancing into the Al Fashqa border region, calling the move an "unacceptable and counterproductive" violation of international law.

"The current situation is the Sudanese force at the border is boosting its position and moving forward ... into Ethiopia's hinterland," Dina told a press conference.

Sudan says Ethiopia killed civilians

A military confrontation between both sides along their border has become imminent in the wake of recent Ethiopian air raids, a Sudanese military source said on Tuesday.

"The Ethiopian army carried out provocative operations, which resulted in the killing of civilians inside the Sudanese border," the source who preferred anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to the media, told Anadolu Agency.

He said the Sudanese military is prepared and ready to protect its lands. 

"The Ethiopian army and militias will not be allowed to return to the Sudanese lands that it had controlled."

READ MORE: Ethiopia accused of blocking access to Sudan for those fleeing Tigray

Renewed border dispute

The two East African nations have been locked in a border dispute for a month when Sudanese forces crossed into Ethiopia saying they were reclaiming their lands.

The two Horn of Africa nations have long feuded over Al Fashqa region, where Ethiopian farmers cultivate fertile land claimed by Sudan.

In early December, Sudan accused Ethiopian "forces and militias" of ambushing Sudanese troops along the border, leaving four dead and more than 20 wounded.

Ethiopia, for its part, said last week that Sudan's military had "organised attacks by using heavy machine guns" and that "many civilians have been murdered and wounded."

Dina called on Sudan to "return to the previous status quo" to give space for a demarcation process.

"Ethiopia always gives priority to peace and respects international norms. However, Ethiopia has its limit," he said.

Dina has previously accused Sudanese military officers of trying to take advantage of fighting in Ethiopia's northernmost Tigray region to press its territorial claims in Al Fashqa.

READ MORE: Sudan summons Ethiopian envoy over suspected cross-border attack

Ethiopia-Sudan relations

The Tigray conflict has spurred tens of thousands of Ethiopian refugees to cross into Sudan.

The two countries share a 1,600-km frontier.

In 1902, a deal to draw up the border was struck between Great Britain, the colonial power in Sudan at the time, and Ethiopia, but it lacked clear demarcation lines.

The two sides held border talks in late December, and Sudan said on December 31 that its army had restored control over all border territory that had been taken over by Ethiopian farmers.

Local broadcaster FANA quoted Dina as saying, "Any type of unilateral exercise is not helpful in finding a lasting solution and what Sudan is doing at the moment is unprecedented and it did not reflect the interest of its people."

Recalling the strong and historical ties between the people of Ethiopia and Sudan, he said there were third parties working to take advantage of the current situation by plunging the two countries into conflict.

READ MORE: Ethiopia's needless war

Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

The border dispute comes at a sensitive time for ties between the two countries, which are also along with Egypt trying to reach a deal over Ethiopia's massive Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile River.

Dina stated that both Sudan and Egypt are deliberately holding back the progress of the trilateral negotiations.

On Sunday, the African Union-mediated trilateral talks between Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia came to a screeching halt after Sudan rejected a recommendation put forth by the experts assigned by the pan-African body.

Ethiopia has been constructing its $5 billion hydro dam on the Nile since 2011.

READ MORE: Sudan voices frustration as three-nation talks on Nile dam stall

Source: AFP