Officials say the helicopter exploded after crashing, but a three-person crew survived it. Separately, Khartoum warns Addis Ababa of consequences after the latter's military aircraft crossed its border.

Ethiopian troops have been fighting Tigray regional forces since early November and attacks over the border into Sudan last month have strained ties between the neighbouring countries.
Ethiopian troops have been fighting Tigray regional forces since early November and attacks over the border into Sudan last month have strained ties between the neighbouring countries. (Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah / Reuters)

A Sudanese military helicopter loaded with weapons and ammunition has crashed shortly after taking off from an airport in an eastern province that borders Ethiopia, officials said.

The crash came as Ethiopian military aircraft crossed the Sudanese-Ethiopian border in what Sudan called a "dangerous and unjustified escalation" on Wednesday. 

The Apache attack helicopter exploded after crashing at Wad Zayed airport in the town of Al Showak in Al Qadarif province, but the three-person crew survived the crash, the Sudanese officials said. 

They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to brief reporters.

The cause of the crash was not immediately clear.

Sudan’s state-run SUNA news agency reported that the helicopter crashed directly after taking off. The report said the plane hit the ground and caught fire.

Wednesday’s crash came as General Abdel-Fattah Burhan was in Al Qadarif to inspect troops stationed in the border areas, the military said.

In the past two months, Sudan's military has deployed troops to the border areas with Ethiopia and said it has reclaimed territories controlled by Ethiopian militias and farmers for many years.

READ MORE: Ethiopia and Sudan trade blame over fresh border tension

Sudan says Ethiopian military aircraft crossed its border

An Ethiopian military aircraft crossed the Sudanese-Ethiopian border in a "dangerous and unjustified escalation," Sudan's Foreign Ministry said.

The incident "could have dangerous consequences, and cause more tension in the border area," it added in a statement.

A decades-old dispute over Al Fashqa – land within Sudan's international boundaries that has long been settled by Ethiopian farmers – erupted late last year into weeks of clashes between forces from both sides.

The Foreign Ministry called on Ethiopia not to repeat "such hostilities in the future given their dangerous repercussions on the future of bilateral relations between the two countries and on security and stability in the Horn of Africa."

Spokespeople for Ethiopia's Foreign Ministry, the prime minister's office, and the military did not immediately answer phone calls and text messages requesting comment.

Ethiopia warned Sudan on Tuesday that it was running out of patience with its neighbour's continued military build-up in a disputed border area despite attempts to defuse tensions with diplomacy.

In response, Sudan's information minister and government spokesperson Faisal Mohamed Saleh said Khartoum did not want war with Ethiopia but its forces would respond to any aggression.

READ MORE: Scores reportedly killed, beheaded, tortured in Ethiopia’s June-July unrest

Tigray conflict and refugees 

Ethiopian and allied regional forces have been fighting Tigray regional forces since early November and attacks over the border into Sudan last month have strained ties between the neighbouring countries. 

The Tigray fighting has sent over 60,000 Ethiopian refugees into Sudan, mostly into Al Qadarif province.

At least five Sudanese women and a child were killed in an attack on Monday inside Sudan by Ethiopian militias, the Sudanese Foreign Ministry said.

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

Source: TRTWorld and agencies