By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
February 25, 2016 (ADDIS ABABA) – Ethiopia on Thursday threatened to take actions against neighbouring Eritrea over what Addis Ababa said was in response to latest aggression by president Issayas Afeworki-led regime in Asmara.
At a press conference held in the capital, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s communication minister, Getachew Reda, said Eritrea has continued to deploy armed groups and bandits as part of its long standing position to destabilise his country.
The minister was refereeing to the latest cross-border mass kidnappings carried out by armed Eritrean men in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region bordering Eritrea.
Recently, a group of armed men dressed in the Eritrean army uniforms crossed borders to Ethiopia and forcibly kidnapped over 80 young Ethiopian miners who were mining gold in Tigray regional state at Kafta-Humera district in Tsirga Girmai locality.
The abducted were among some 400 traditional gold miners who had long been engaged in traditional gold mining activities near the Ethiopia – Eritrea shared border.
While confirming the incident Getachew however downplayed it saying “it wasn’t a big surprise” coming from a sworn enemy.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if a same thing happened because it happens once in a while and because the borders are very porous and it is not like you can guard every inch of the border every minute of the day” he said.
He added all bandits and armed groups are being deployed to Ethiopia by Eritrea using some Ethiopian rebels or other armed groups the Red Sea nation harbors.
With regard to the latest cross-border attacks and mass kidnappings the senior government official said the Ethiopian government is following the incident closely and will take retaliatory actions.
Considering the level of the aggression “We have been taking proportionate measures in the past and we will take proportionate measures” this time Getachew told reporters.
The minister however refrained to reveal the type and level of those proportionate actions he said will be taken in response.
Ethiopia has routinely accused arch-rival Eritrea of orchestrating a number of cross-border attacks carried out in its soil, an accusation Asmara denies.
The Horn of African nation had previously carried out attacks on targets inside Eritrea to what Addis Ababa says is a proportional measures to Eritrea’s continued aggression including to cross-border kidnappings targeting foreign tourists.
In 1998, the two neighbors fought a two-year long war over their disputed border which has claimed the lives of at least 70,000. The row over their border remains unresolved and forces of both sides regularly engage in lower-scale skirmishes.