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More “Low Intensity Conflict” In The Eritrea-Ethiopia Border

As of mid-February 2012, Eritrean border troops in the Akhran area of Southern Eritrea have evacuated their posts and relocated 15 kilometers to the interior of Eritrea.  This action was taken following Ethiopian repositioning of its forces, shortly after the mid January killing and kidnapping of European tourists by Afar Revolutionary Democratic Unity Front, ARDUF, an Ethiopian rebel group locally known as Uguugumoh.   

The Akhran zone, located within the province formerly known as Akele Guzai, is composed of 12 villages, the largest being Meshal Akran.

Several villages that were left in limbo are now being administered by the Eritrean National Salvation Front (ENSF), one of Eritrea’s opposition groups.

Part of the administrative challenge is that residents of the border villages of Knn and Qntto are unable to use the Eritrean currency,  the Nakfa, for cross-border shopping in Tigray in Northern Ethiopia. They are also complaining that their children’s education has been disrupted.

Ethiopian authorities did not reply to email inquiries by Gedab News.

The Akhran area of Eritrea is one of the areas that suffered greatly during the 1998-2000 Eritrea-Ethiopia war because of its proximity to the border which was the scene of fierce fighting.

Akhran, which is close to the Hazemo plains, is about 60 kilometers away from the town of Dekemhare, which is 45 kilometers away from the Eritrean capital, Asmara.

In a press release issued on March 2, 2012, an Eritrean opposition organization called National Democratic Front for the Liberation of Eritrean Saho (NDFLES) stated that Endele, Ma’era and parts of Assed-Af, all in the south central border with Ethiopia, are under its control.

The press release also stated that while the NDFLES combatants were conducting a meeting between February 28-29 at the administrative areas of Assed-Af and Endeli in the Gelalalo district, they were attacked by an Eritrean army force and that, in the battle that ensued, they managed to inflict casualties and defeat the force which retreated.

According to the Algiers Peace Agreement of December 2000, Eritrea and Ethiopia were to have a 25-km buffer zone, monitored by the United Nations, along their common border until the area was demarcated. The UN monitors (UNMEE) were placed in 2001. The Ethiopian government would not agree to demarcate the border in accordance with the terms of the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) unless the fate of the people and the villages in the border area are resolved first through a dialogue with the Eritrean government. The Eritrean Government rejected Ethiopia’s call for dialogue and insisted on demarcating the border as per the ruling of the EEBC. That deadlock resulted in EEBC’s decision to “virtually demarcate” the border. Subsequently the Eritrean government initiated a campaign to make the work of UNMEE so difficult that it had to withdraw. The border, now, is entirely un-monitored and it takes only a trigger action to restart the conflict.


The National Democratic Front for the Liberation of Eritrean Saho (NDFLES) was formed in 2009 following an upheaval in the mountains of Akele Guzai, triggered by a captain’s challenge of a commander’s use of a female soldier as concubine.

In December 2009, the central committee of NDFLES announced that it would form a military base “within a short period” to engage the “PFDJ segment.”  Since then, NDFLES has regularly issued communiques of its engagement with government forces on its website,

For more on ARDUF and its kidnapping of European tourists, read our report here.

The Eritrean regime rarely comments on armed groups challenging its legitimacy.  It presents itself as an oasis of peace: the only exception was in its October 17, 2011 response to the Monitoring Group on Eritrea and Somalia where it admitted that there is a presence of “low intensity conflict” within Eritrea.


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  • halenghi mermerti ameterti gujle isayas zeyteame yefeleto ember yerebareb alekhu ab hagerey

  • b’Alti W’qatto Arwe, Apology accepted.Keep up the good work

  • b’Alti W’qatto Arwe (As in a girl with a dragon tattoo).

    Fewsi Hmam L’bi,

    My apologies hawey. I sure took you for someone else. Again, my apologies.

  • kaddis

    Fewsi – and Lady Dragon –

    I saw the video of Prof Mussie – They were too naïve to expect Isias’s support to wage war from Eritrea. He would have done it himself if that was a possibility. I think he would not risk inviting Eth army for a rebel this much confused. The Ethiopian army is not expected to distinguish a fire from Shabia or the rebels. So for Isaias – he is just using the rebels as a leverage for any future negotiations with Ethiopia …just in case ( may be)

    Gash Saleh –
    Much respect to hear from you regarding my comments. I am not sure I have what it takes to hang out here with talents like my Lady dragon and peers …but I will come as often. I may sound irrelevant for certain topics – but we both have started a new journey in 1991. I feel Ethiopians have gone through some major political, ethnic and religious up and downs – . You can learn some and shorten the troubles.

    My interest in Eri issues is only because we have a similar history other than the last 20 years we hardly lived apart. Most of my knowledge about Eth is from your site and Asmarino ( specialy during the golden years of Yg, ZL, Amanuel Sahle …).

    You may not notice it – but you all sound very very familiar :))-


    • b’Alti W’qatto Arwe (As in a girl with a dragon tattoo).


      I wonder if Saleh had Tazabi in mind instead of you when he made those comments you’re referring to. We all learn from you as well as you see it from a different vantage point to the otherwise intellectually stimulating discourses where it matters most not only to Eritreans but to our Ethiopian brothers and sisters as well. Your incredibly polite and courteous comments are a joy to the rest of us. Thank you.

      • Eyob Medhane


        Thank you so much. Now I am so flattered, I don’t know what to do with myself 🙂

        Though, it took me few days, I have survived the beat down from the other thread for pricking the “unprickable”. Of course I will show up, when the need arises for me to be yelled and screamed at. I again thank you, for the “Arhibu”

    • Kaddis ,
      I am satisfied with your civil analysis. If I do not know, I ask. And , I never looked at it, from the angle you enlighjtened me. I could not tell, if the proffesor was comedian or naive? And you answered it, God bless you.

    • Tazabi

      To anyone who has been following Ethiopian politics it is obvious the Ethiopian oppositions based in Eritrea are very marginal players. Many in Ethiopia do not take them seriously. Even the faction of the OLF that is based in Eritrea is being marginalized. People want to repeat the past because TPLF and EPLF came to power through armed struggle. Some want to repeat that. The environment in Ethiopia does not support that.

  • Donsar Beniraza

    selam all,

    Sal., this is my “waza mis qumneger” rambling:-)

    People need to talk while others have to listen and then change places. There was time when people were called the “Ten old Mosquitoes”, may be more may be less for there was no statistical proof for the number. These where the young good old days when the people where wise, witty, and smart plus the others and ” Twgah e’mo” who where having it their way. There was times when some thought that “Fareed the bad-boy of Awate” may have been one of the Ten Mosquitoes raising it to its Kerenite hights and becoming quite parochial in the process. How big and outreaching can Keren really be even if it goes bad or bulling around. So, Sal, what does a Mig has to do with it when Einstein has E=MC*2 all figured out for you?:-). No more twgaH e’mo in a new wine skins, be it one and be it all, for the sun never stops rising in the east and setting in the west. Life is just a journey along the highway of time. Time is all one gets to live before he gets out of time. Live right so that you may find the way to live after you die, cross-over, pass away, go out of time, to another time and level of being in the higher or lower planes of life. Elm al-Alem Yeji min alem = knowledge about the world comes from pain. I said this to my Sudanese friend and he agrees and thinks this is a good way of cutting it short, for a lack of a better expression. This is normal conversation and you must believe it and see how you see it yourself. Otherwise, I will raise you my “Ama to the 7th degree” and it ain’t going to be fair to the younger ones. You see, guns and talks accompanied our democratic struggle of old. Now, only talks besides the sporadic ethnic or religious gunfire against the old devil, which is fine if there are ears to hear and peaceful means may prevail. In the old days, Ama one = No selective hearing and Ama Seven = No selective curing. Unity in diversity was the slogan and life of our old days and people walked and talked accordingly and made life worthwhile live in the middle of war.

    Well, in passing, I reckon it was always dawn in Barka before my Tahdai and Koroken days. Ama of the 7th blade was our squad name. And then Isaias who was with our comrades and elders became a nasty street boy whom Ama was easy on because of “highlander sentiments”. Some of us thought we should play Ama to the 7th degree minus Fidayeeen. Fidayeen was to big to go down to the level of Isaias but some of the pool-shooters from the cities and towns and some sling swingers from the villages meant business till the coward bully stopped hide and seek with life and limb at all but things moved too fast before everything else and some of us don’t know what hit us except that we were hit somewhere and then the whole of our thing disintegrated into noisy daughters and nothing significant has changed so far. These were the “go it easy” ones until you become nasty and there is no negotiation till the coward bully behaved or else. The wisdom of the day won and your have Isaias till this day. Life is made and then chatted about. Make your own citizen and see were you find yourself in the beat of life with one and with all. The world is changing visibly and invisibly even if we don’t see all.

    These scribbling are nothing serious but just one of those things put down to remember the good old days and then the “twgaH e’mo” and the “Mig” old days along with those who were democratically noisy and called the “Ten Mosquitoes of Deha” or something to that effect. About Awate forum and Fareed, do you know that we were all neighbor-hooding except a few? Listen, wherever there was Keren there where Keren bad-boys and may be a couple of girls. How did Keren get itself urbanized to wit the highlanders who think it is cool, too, nobody knows:-) Perhaps, it is the songs or the singers or both plus the bullies that made the girls run to for protection if one was able to offer one:-). In those days, to be walking with a beautiful girl, which is often the one who got harassed by Keren bullies and one has to raise the stakes to where one is more firmly planted in humor and guts with the stick or sword at hand that keeps the peace. Well, thank you for listening, even selectively:-) Peace and love to one and to all.

    In peace Profound

    Donsar Solomon Beniraza

  • It is not, that Eritrean soldiers ran away ….it is just, “Mekhal’f”…. if it is neccessary the Eritrean troops can “technically withdraw” upto Kessela…, Let us be patient… we will teach the Woyanes a lesson by leaving our land, and marching to the North … up to Sudan!

  • b’Alti W’qatto Arwe (As in a girl with a dragon tattoo).

    Dear Awate Editors,

    I just finished watching an explosive expose’ by a certain E.P.P.F leader where he spills the beans about the mafia like modus operandi of PFDJ as he recounts in detail how again Isaias controls all the Asmara-based cacophony of liberation fronts against the government in Ethiopia. He also walks us through the miserable life in Eritrea as the people are suffocated and gasping for air to breath as the sadist regime remains aloof to the people’s predicament. I just wanted to bring it to your attention in case if you haven’t watched it. The video is appeared in one of the Ethiopian Opposition websites (

    • Soira
    • Saleh AA Younis

      W’qatto Arwe*

      Thanks for the tip. I intend to watch it.

      Your note brings to mind the discussions in Awate Forum 1.0 and veterans from that period (Wedi Ere, Excited, Sennay) may correct me, but one of my favorite postings of all time occurred then. As I write this, I have not found what my point is in telling the story, so why don’t we take the journey together and at some point maybe the point will hit me. (“In Soviet Russia….” Family Guy joke..**)

      When all the talk was about the brave Ethiopian Arbegnoch and the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia, most of us knew they were headed nowhere. This doesn’t require special foresight: most countries, including superpowers, don’t have a great track record in creating/nurturing opposition groups and proxy groups. The Arbenoch were even more transparent because they had more “Fintih-zirgih” than our own opposition groups and some were literally put together by Yemane Gebreab in The Netherlands (I think) who made sure to re-name them every year or two (so we don’t get bored.) Like all forums, Awate Forum 1.0 had its prototypes: there were the loyal fans who considered every gesture by their side a brilliant chess move and there were detractors who considered every step a colossal waste of time. Supporting every move of the PFDJ was Weyni (whatever happened to her?) who would regale us with awesome stories about brilliant military victories of the Arbegnoch under the even more awesome leadership of Captain Meskerem, then she would take a break from that long enough to tell us about the fantastic maneuver of the Somali Islamic Courts who were just punishing the Weyane and how they were just about to turn the tide…and then she would be back to Captain Meskerem who, for a brief period, was the Che Guevara of Arbegnochu… This was when Prophet Isaias had professied, “and hear ye, hear ye, huzzah! And so I spake, that the Weyane’s days are numbered henceforth…tarry no more, disperse and spread the word!” And, of course, the sheep had to bleat.

      Anyway, here comes one of the most memorable, and regretfully now disappeared commenter named Fareed who always brought a knife to every fight. He says “Weyni, you just remind me of the tea-sellers back home with their Farnelo and Feham (coal-powered portable stoves) going from one construction site to another…except you are going from Welqait to Kismayo.” If you can’t picture that, it is not that funny.

      Now I have to have a point to have an excuse for this story. Oh yeah. Everything we think is so important and so urgent when we are in the middle of it, really is not. Most of what we write is just topical stuff, that will just blow with the wind and be forgotten. So let’s all try to enrich this website, and each other, by being creative, and funny, in the meanwhile. Instead of asking for intervention by moderators, let’s starve some threads to death instead of taking them all the way to a dead end. And, if you have a unique talent, it is a sin against God to waste it. I am talking to you Eyob and Kaddis…

      Anyway, Dragon Lady, I will be sure to watch it… I just have to be in a mindset where my brain can endure a mild case of depression.

      * A belated sorry for the Lady with the dragon tatoo losing out the Oscar nomination for best actress to Meryl Streep.
      ** If forced, I will have to explain the reference.

      • b’Alti W’qatto Arwe (As in a girl with a dragon tattoo).

        Dear Sal,

        Let me digress for a bit. In his Noble Lecture titled, “My Father’s Suitcase”, the 2006 Noble Prize winner in literature Orhan Pamuk talks brilliantly about the melancholic state of mind of great writers where melancholy (read depression) is a gold-mine for great ideas and impressive writing skills as well. I thought you would watch the video anytime for you’re a great writer (read: you must be always in a depressive mood). If you weren’t depressed, you wouldn’t have been our SAAY.

        Back to the real deal. Isaias strikes me as a restive author with an over-active imagination who set out to write an epic novel with five million characters in it. As much as it is incredibly difficult for readers to follow the characters of that magnitude, he finds a common thread that binds them together lest they ‘rebel’ against him. Imagine characters quitting on the author. As much as it sounds so bizarre, Isaias however is able to pull it off by planting fear in every move they make to have their story finalized.

        One would be terribly reminded of Isaias’ knack for creating five million characters as one follows the narrative of the video. He would bring proxy forces to fight for him against a perceived enemy. Not only he stifles their effort to fight for their cause, he would replenish them with other forces before they are completely exhausted. In the mean time however, his characters would interpret his jittery behaviour as a brilliant move where Weyni comes to mind. His characters are left with no option but to comply with him for he can take them off of the scene with a stroke of an eraser.

        You can call me an Oscar-night buff if there is such a thing called like that but I haven’t watched the Oscars in recent years. I should say, I got disappointed in “them” when they failed to give an Oscar to one of my all time favourite actors Morgan Freeman in the movie “Shawshank Redemption”. Glad to hear that Meryl Streep got the Oscar for she makes us believe that life imitates art not the other way around. As for Fareed’s cold sarcastic take, I am still laughing.

    • rodab

      So EPPF is no more? Hahaha funny. I didn’t know that till now but it makes sense why I didn’t hear about them for a while, not that I follow Ethio politics anyway.
      At the height of the relationship, PIA invited Ethiomedia host and granted him along an EPPFer interview where they asked him in Amharic and he answered in English. Poor EPPF. It went boom-to-bust quickly. So who is in Eritrea now?

    • b’Alti W’qatto Arwe,

      I really admire you for directing us to this extensive documentary style occurance, I have to admit, I learned that PFDJ is stronger mafia than I thought. However, why did PFDJ decided to weaken the Ethiopian anti-govt forces.? Please, help me understand cause & effect of the situation.
      Thank you

      • b’Alti W’qatto Arwe (As in a girl with a dragon tattoo).

        Fewsi Hmam Lbi,

        I would say, my guess is as good as yours. One would be hard pressed to step on the confines of conspiracy theory when one tries to analyze the complex and at times murky political dynamics of that part of the world. As much as bitter and resentful the person in the video-narrative sounds, he seems as well to attribute the failure and collapse of his Front to Isaias’ cunning schemes as the latter grew suspicious about the true intent of the E.P.P.F.

        That is, according to him (the leader of E.P.P.F), Isaias is apprehensive about the Front where once they come to power they would be running Ethiopia with an intention to thwart Isaias’ interest in the region. It sure sounds hyperbolic as the leader of the Front seems to be in a grandiose delusion. In reality however, it is evident that let alone for the Front to defeat the Weyanes, they are not even able to clean up their house as they keep changing leadership personalities as they are turned into toys for Isaias’ boring moments.

        The accepted rationale with in the experts (read: armchair analysts) of the region is that, Isaias is determined to bring down if not weaken the Weyanes by proxy wars where Asmara is turned into posse-commitatus if you will as he shuffles them around like a deck of cards.

        To Isaias’ discredit however, he is losing the battle against the Weyanes as he is losing the war against his own people as well. It seems his people not only have the heavens rooting for them, great powers here on Earth as well are slowly but surely heeding to their plight as the sanctions against Isaias attest to that effect.

        • b’Alti W’qatto Arwe (As in a girl with a dragon tattoo).

          Fewsi Hmam Lbi,

          Forgot to add something. There is no such a thing called strong mafia or weak mafia. A mafia is always a mafia for you seem to be having a soft heart for Isaias’ gangista-way of running a nation. Hope you don’t flatter yourself as you seem to confuse mafia with a complement. It ain’t cool at all.

          • b’Alti W’qatto Arwe ,
            I admired your analysis, (as my question was sincere), and thank you for that …however when I read the extra comment, psycho analizing me, is incorrect. I am known also as SINGAPO-ERITREAN. Not only do I not admire Isaias, I hate the fake flag he made, I hate his interviews, ” I was commenting how organized his mafia work is, it is like saying this poop has a smell, hardly a complement. However I like to concentrate on your smart analysis as opposed to your hasty & way far from the truth judgement.

            Keep up the good analysis , I admire you


      I have question to m, Adehanom and M, Yohanes why don’t you ask the Ethiopian government or other Country’s to arm the refugees and help they follow brothers? And we need to know if the Government of Ethiopia is on our side or not. Look like something is not right.

  • Donsar Beniraza

    Awate Staff let me say something what I said in one of meskerem’s pages but was not allowed to be posted by man and machine, a conspiracy of cybersort, about the late Naizghi and his former boss who denied him even a burial in Eritrea. Awate staff, I will tell you I would have wom even if you don’t post this one on this page only if you allow it to be posted:-)

    selam everyone and William,

    William, find my responses below the statements quoted from your post:

    {{{For every 4 by 4 space in Eritrea, we gave one our best and brightest gallant to liberate,}}}

    Who is the “we” in your mind? Lots of Eritreans have martyrs in Eritrea. How do we measure your “we” and compare it to the “we” in every Eritrean? Through Eritreanism, humanism, godism, or God? Measure your individual against any Eritrean for we have no one “we”, one nation composed of many of diverse kind in their ancestral land under a law that governs all equally, weak or strong, poor or rich, good or bad, wise or fool and treat their corpses with dignity as the traditions, customs, and laws of each Eritrean sub-nation demands. Why fight with a corpse or use a corpse to get at somebody which the insane would not even do?

    {{{now if you are one of the sold-out conspirator who are working with the enemies of Eritrea to reverse the heroic achievement instead of living the promise of our martyrs, you will not have a space for burial, obviously your consciousnesses even will not accept it of a guilty feeling,}}}

    The ones that die to liberate the land so that they and their loved ones could have a place to call home, a resting place in death or in life, is what makes Eritrea what it was, it is and what it ought to have been. We were not like it is today if it was not for one who have grudges even with corpse and his family and his nation and not a state where the leader is god and his word is truth, a son of the kingdom of evil, a demoniac called Isaias.

    {{{ so no matter what banner or scarf you wear your fate remains unchanged.}}}

    Who decides whose fate regardless besides the scarf or the man of the scarf? Only anyone on earth can’t do that for he does not know what he is in the first place. Man should learn to be good regardless of the conditions that surround his humanity and that may bring him into the realization of his spiritual identity or at least leave goodness behind him. Man should know what life is and what he is for himself first and then value himself equal to any man from the land before the eyes of the laws of the land, traditions of the land, customs of the land, values and sentiments of the land, and so forth. The people of the land are the nation, the notion of one people inhabiting a common territory and governed by the rule of law land that binds them into united collectivity. Unity in Diversity and Equality of the civic citizen to every citizen, a nation functioning under a constitution that governs the institutions of the people of the land and not a state ruled by one man and his party.

    {{{long live Eritrea}}}

    Eritrea will sure live for long but the nation of Eritrea has to be made first based on territorial nationalism for the land and civic nationalism for the man and both for the nation, and grand the dead a burial ground in the territory of his sub-nation, village, town, or city. Peace to one and to all!

    In Peace Profound
    Donsar Solomon Beniraza

    3.William says: (March 5, 2012 at 11:51 pm)

    For every 4 by 4 space in Eritrea, we gave one our best and brightest gallant to liberate , now if you are one of the sold-out conspirator who are working with the enemies of Eritrea to reverse the heroic achievement instead of living the promise of our martyrs , you will not have a space for burial, obviously your consciousnesses even will not accept it of a guilty feeling, so no matter what banner or scarf you wear your fate remains unchanged.
    long live Eritrea

  • Born to suffer

    There is not Government in erey may be soon the will say to us there is no state. Higdef mafia is leading erey to hell.

  • Some eritreans are useless like on earth does any eritrean is keen to shed blood of his brother in battel?we must be united to gether so we can build our country.all the best shaebia

    • Soira

      how on earth can the pfdj spill the blood of their own brothers at the borders and in jails? if your brothers kills you inside the country then he is your enemy. self defense is justified in the eyes of man and god.

      • Ahmed Saleh

        Stop pretenending like you care , when someone try to oppress you and tries to take away your integrity, it is holy to fight back. The injustices toward Saho people shortly after independence affected many people’s lives back then.
        The policy of the government is the main factor on pushing to rise with fire arm. If you are truthfull enough, condemn this rogue regime’s criminal activity and advocate for all Eritreans liberty, equality and freedom . If we didn’t change our negative attitude to our common issues nothing good will come out of it. Maybe you will hear some other group from other regions would come out armed too. Suppoting the dictator blindly are only to self destruction.

  • Soira

    congrats to 12 eritrean villages liberated from the jaws of belae seb isaias….lomi 12 villages tommorrow the whole country. awate staff, how close are the villages to emba.Soira

  • saare

    Is this article celebrating the fact that this sepratist group has killed eritrean soldiers. Some of whom are there just doing what they feel is there duty and have no political affiliations?????

    • Asteweil

      This is just a news article reporting what happened. Neither condoning nor condemning the incident.

      • saare

        News is unbias. Just the facts. This article however is so one sided it fails to hold any water with me. If the full might off the eritrean military was brought to bare on these sepratise, no doubt they would be calling for NATO airstrikes.

        • Hameed


          First raise your hand and make the shabia media unbias then try to give lessons to others. The NATO strikes will not be far, just wait with patience!

  • rodab

    This might sound like a joke, but did Gedab News also send email inquiries to Eritrean officials (just like it sent to Ethiopian officials) about this report? I know a ‘silent treatment’ is what it would’ve gotten from the government, but still I believe it’s worth trying specially when there is nothing to loose in doing so. Infact, it would validate the report in the eyes of the readers if Gedab News was to say ‘our attempt to get reaction from the government was unsuccessful’.

    • Soira


      i hate to break the sad news to you but there is no gov’t in eritrea; do you know what gov’t means? in eritrea we have a mafia group and isaias afwerki is the godfather of the mafia racket; he owns the people and the land. why would gedab contact the mafia group? its better to ignore them as if they don’t exist. go to dehai. org and alenaki

      • Kokhob Selam

        you got it. where are officials to talk with?

    • awatestaff


      We have never had any luck getting our phone calls or emails answered by the Eritrean “government”, if a mafia organization can be called a government just because it has tanks and artillery.

      But maybe you can try for us and we will deputize you as a Gedab News reporter instantly. Here’s where you can start:

      Do let us know how it goes.