On March 16, the Ethiopian government announced that it had carried out raids 18 kilometers into Eritrea and that it had destroyed three Ethiopian “terrorist” bases in Ramida, Gelahbe, and Gimbi in the Afar region of Eritrea. The Ethiopian government also said that “several Shaebian [Eritrean] soldiers and anti-peace forces were wounded and arrested” in the operation.
The Eritrean government responded that there was nothing new to the Ethiopian attack, announced as it may have been with “much bravado” by its media and its “echo chamber” [Western media.] In a statement issued by its Foreign Ministry, the Eritrean government said that the attack was a continuation of a 10-year long occupation of Eritrean territories and that the attack of Ethiopia and its “backers” and “protectors” was a way to distract attention from Ethiopia’s internal crisis.
In its press conference, the spokesperson of the Ethiopian Ministry of Defense, Colonel Gebrekidan Gebremariam did not provide details on the nature of the attack. But according to our source in Eritrea, the reason for the lack of details by Ethiopia, and the reason for Eritrea’s reference to “backers” and “protectors” is because it claims it is a Drone attack.
In October of last year, the Washington Post reported that the United States Air Force upgraded Ethiopia’s Arba-Mich airfield and it has been flying counter-terrorism Drones named Reapers, equipped with “Hellfire missiles and satellite-guided bombs” since 2011. The Reapers have a range of 1,150 miles. The US has drone bases in Ethiopia, Seychelles and Djibouti mostly directed towards Somalia.
Beginning with Eritrea’s alleged attempt bombing of the AU compound in Addis Abeba in mid-2011, and following up with January 2012’s kidnapping of European tourists by Ethiopian opposition group ARDUF, the Ethiopian government has been telling the International community that if they do not act to punish the Eritrean government, it will.
Update: Reuters reports that in a letter it has seen, the Eritrean Foreign Minister has filed a complaint with the UN alleging that “It is patently clear that the Ethiopian regime could not have unleashed such a flagrant act of aggression with such audacity without the protection and succor of the United States in the Security Council.”
Update 3: Reuters reports that on Saturday, the Ethiopian government conducted another raid, this time north of Badme (central zone.) Excerpt from Reuters report:
“We’ve carried out further attacks on targets inside Eritrea. This time it’s in the north section around Badme,” a senior Ethiopian government official told Reuters on Saturday.
“We were once again successful. This strike was part of our plan to take proportional measures that included the (earlier) attacks in Eritrea’s southeast.” He did not specify who had been targeted in the latest attack.