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Eritrea claims it killed 200 in Ethiopia clash

Each side blames the other for starting the two-day battle, saying also that their rival suffered the most losses

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Eritrea claimed Thursday to have killed “more than 200” Ethiopians in a battle last week, the fiercest border clashes since a 1998-2000 war, while giving no mention of its own casualties.

Each side blames the other for starting the two-day battle which broke out on Sunday, saying also that their rival suffered the most losses.

There was no immediate response from Ethiopia, which has not released numbers killed.

“More than 200 TPLF (Ethiopian) troops have been killed and more than 300 wounded,” Eritrea’s Ministry of Information said in a statement, calling it a “conservative estimate”.

There was no mention of any prisoners of war.

Ethiopian government spokesman Getachew Reda on Tuesday said “there were significant casualties on both sides, but more on the Eritrean side.”

Eritrea won independence from Ethiopia in 1991 after three decades of war, but returned to battle in 1998-2000, when nearly 80,000 died.

The neighbours are bitter enemies, with tens of thousands of troops dug into trenches eyeing each other along the heavily fortified frontier.

Open-ended, compulsory national service makes Eritrea one of the world’s most militarised nations, but with just five million citizens it is dwarfed by Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous nation with some 96 million people.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday urged both governments to exercise “maximum restraint,” and resolve differences through peaceful means. The United States has voiced similar “grave” concerns.