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DATE=2/23/99 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT NUMBER=2-245836 TITLE=ETHIOPIA / ERITREA (L) BYLINE=SCOTT STEARNS DATELINE=NAIROBI CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: MORE FIGHTING IS REPORTED IN THE BORDER WAR BETWEEN ETHIOPIA AND ERITREA. V-O-A'S EAST AFRICA CORRESPONDENT SCOTT STEARNS REPORTS THIS LATEST ROUND OF COMBAT IS NOW ENTERING ITS THIRD WEEK. TEXT: GROUND FORCES OPENED FIRE BEFORE DAWN TUESDAY NEAR THE DISPUTED BORDER TOWN OF BADAME. HEAVY FIGHTING IS REPORTED ON BOTH SIDES ALONG THIS FRONT LESS THAN 150 KILOMETERS FROM THE ERITREAN CAPITAL, ASMARA. ERITREAN TROOPS CAPTURED BADAME LAST MAY. ETHIOPIA HAS BEEN TRYING TO GET IT BACK IN THIS LATEST ROUND OF FIGHTING, MOVING NORTH FROM TRENCHES OUTSIDE THE VILLAGE OF AYAY INTO THE GEZA GERLASSIE PLAIN, BUT SO FAR FAILING TO GAIN THE HIGH GROUND AROUND BADAME ITSELF. ERITREA IS ACCUSING ETHIOPIA OF VIOLATING AN AIR EMBARGO IN THE CONFLICT BY USING AIRCRAFT TO BOMB ERITREAN POSITIONS AROUND BADAME. ETHIOPIA SAYS ERITREA VIOLATED THE EMBARGO FIRST BY BOMBING THE TOWN OF ADIGRAT EARLIER THIS MONTH. FIGHTING HAS SPREAD TO THREE OTHER FRONTS IN THIS WAR WITH COMBAT 100 KILOMETERS EAST OF BADAME ON THE TSORONA FRONT, SHELLING AT THE BORDER TOWN OF ZALLAMBESA, AND ETHIOPIAN BOMBING RUNS ON THE ERITREAN PORT OF ASAB. ETHIOPIAN GOVERNMENT SPOKESWOMAN SELOME TADESSE SAYS THE RAIDS HAVE DAMAGED THE RUNWAY IN ASAB AND KNOCKED-OUT A KEY WATER FACILITY. SHE SAYS FIGHTING WILL CONTINUE TO ESCALATE AS LONG AS ERITREAN TROOPS HOLD ETHIOPIAN TERRITORY. REGIONAL MEDIATORS ARE PUSHING AN ORGANIZATION OF AFRICAN UNITY PLAN TO ARBITRATE THE BORDER DISPUTE. ERITREA WANTS INTERNATIONAL MONITORS IN DISPUTED AREAS BEFORE WITHDRAWING ITS FORCES. ETHIOPIA WANTS THOSE TROOPS OUT AND LOCAL ETHIOPIAN AUTHORITY RESTORED BEFORE ANY FORMAL PEACE TALKS. ANOTHER O-A-U DELEGATION WAS SCHEDULED TO VISIT THE ERITREAN CAPITAL TUESDAY. SO FAR THERE HAS BEEN NO PROGRESS TOWARD A CEASEFIRE AS BOTH SIDES SEEM DETERMINED TO CONTINUE THE FIGHT. (SIGNED) NEB/SKS/JWH 23-Feb-99 6:24 AM EST (1124 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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