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v. Ethiopia #child
v. Afghanistan #Kashmir
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Eritrea v. Ethiopia border war
Eritrea rejects any suggestion
of a wholesale defeat
The Ethiopian Government
has declared victory in its border war with Eritrea after recapturing
the disputed Badme region.
A government statement said
that Ethiopian troops had overrun 100km of heavily-fortified Eritrean
trenches, dealing a "monumental and humiliating defeat" to the Eritrean
But Eritrean authorities
rejected the suggestion of a wholesale defeat, describing Ethiopia's victory
statement as "boasting and lies".
Eritrea denies defeat
Eritrean radio said on Sunday its forces had foiled an Ethiopian offensive
on the Mereb-Setit front between the two countries.
The Eritrean broadcast said:
"The expansionist weyane [Ethiopian] group continued with its offensives
on the Mereb-Setit front today and was foiled like the past offensives
with severe losses."
The authorities in Asmara
have conceded that Ethiopian troops have penetrated beyond Badme, but deny
that they have suffered a total defeat.
They say that their army
has merely withdrawn to new defensive positions.
Ethiopia's claim to victory, there were reports of fresh outbreaks of fighting
Eritrean presidential chief
of staff Yemane Gebremeskel said Ethiopian forces had launched a new attack
against the Eritrean army along the western Badme front at around 1100
local time (0800 GMT).
Fighting broke out on Tuesday
as Ethiopian troops tried to recapture territory occupied by Eritrea.
The Ethiopian Government
said its forces had, in the space of four days, managed to destroy the
enemy troops, "sending them into total disarray".
"Enemy army personnel left
over have fled, scattering and leaving behind their military armaments,"
it said in the statement.
Ethiopia said that tens
of thousands of Eritrean troops were killed, wounded or captured in the
last few days of fierce fighting.
These figures are rejected
by the Eritreans who argue that the Ethiopians have incurred the heaviest
casualties. These claims and counter-claims
cannot be independently verified.
But diplomats confirm that
both sides have suffered extremely heavy losses.
News of Ethiopia's victory
declaration came hours after the United Nations announced that Eritrean
President Issaias Afeworki had accepted an Organisation of African Unity
(OAU) peace plan which implies Eritrean withdrawal from the contested western
Eritrea's acceptance of
the peace plan - effectively a reversal of its earlier position - came
after Ethiopian troops breached its lines at Badme
and captured up to 10km of territory that Eritrea had claimed for itself.
The war between the two
neighbours began in May last year, with the initial battles lasting for
about five weeks. The latest fighting resumed on 6 February, ending an
Although Eritrea fought
a 30-year war against Ethiopia and was granted independence in 1993, the
border between the two countries was never officially declared.
February 9, 1999
ANALYSIS: HOW ALLIES BECAME ENEMIES
Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki
and Ethiopian PM Meles Zenawi
By East Africa Correspondent
It was the introduction
of a new currency by Eritrea in 1997 that gave the first indications that
all was not as it seemed between the two Horn of Africa neighbours.
Until then relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea had appeared to be excellent.
For the West, Ethiopia's prime minister, Meles Zenawi, and the Eritrean
president, Isaias Afwerki, were a new type of African leader who, it was
hoped, would help bring about an African renaissance.
At home they were often
described as being like brothers. The Eritreans helped the Ethiopians overthrow
the Mengistu regime, and, in 1993, gained their own long-fought for independence.
Until 1997 Eritrea had kept
the Ethiopian currency. When it introduced its own, citing economic reasons,
the relationship started to look shaky.
The long border shared by
the two countries is in places mountainous, rocky and desolate. It has
never been properly delineated.
Until last year that didn't
seem to matter. Ethiopians seeking work crossed easily into Eritrea. Tens
of thousands of Eritreans lived in Ethiopia.
Ethiopian and Eritrean officials
held occasional committee meetings to discuss the issue, but these appeared
to the outside world as cordial and unproblematic.
Maps and missiles
The border line was based
on old colonial maps drawn up by the Italians. Suddenly the maps became
the focus of a crisis.
Fighting broke out in May
1998 an area known as the Badme triangle, a 400 square km triangle of land.
The Ethiopians, who administered it, said the Eritreans had invaded and
they demanded their withdrawal.
Eritrea admitted that its
forces had entered the area, but claimed that they were taking back land
which belonged to Eritrea. The pattern of claim and counter claim was repeated
at several more points along the border.
In Addis Ababa, the ruling
Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front said Ethiopia would not
begin negotiations until Eritrean forces pulled back from its land. Eritrea
said this was impossible because the land was Eritrean. Deadlock was reached.
There is still some bafflement
among analysts as to why Ethiopia and Eritrea allowed the situation to
deteriorate so far. Economically both seemed to have a lot to lose.
Ethiopia, which used the
Eritrean ports of Massawa and Asab, immediately mounted a blockade and
diverted its ships to Djibouti.
While this has caused economic
damage to Eritrea, thousands of Ethiopians have also lost a place to work.
And whilst the West and
other African leaders mounted their mediation efforts, the two leaders
lost their reputation as the forward-looking men in the Horn of Africa.
*October 7, 1998
envoy in Eritrea for MEDIATION
Both sides have used heavy artillery in the conflict
A senior American envoy,
Anthony Lake, has had a meeting in the Eritrean capital, Asmara,
with President Afewerki on the first stage of a mission to try to
resolve the country's conflict with Ethiopia.
Neither side made any
comment on the discussions.
Mr Lake declined to disclose
details of the US initiative to the media on the grounds that this would
He is due to travel on
to Addis Ababa on Thursday.
His mission coincides
with the end of the rainy season which has seen a huge troop build-up along
both sides of the border.
Fighting broke out between
the two countries in May over a territorial dispute.
On Tuesday, Ethiopia
said it welcomed the peace talks and appreciated the role played by the
However Prime Minister
Meles Zenawi hinted that a resumption of fighting may be the only solution
if the mediation attempt fails and said he was not optimistic about a peaceful
In September Eritrea
expressed reservations about the US mediation attempt. An Eritrean statement
criticised what it called previous unhelpful interference by the US over
the border dispute.
Eritrea, a former Italian
colony, became independent from Ethiopia in 1993 after a 30-year war for
Ethiopia bombs Eritrean capital
wounded Ethiopian prisoner, foreground, surrenders to Eritrean soldiers
in Zala Ambessa, Ethiopia Thursday, more than 24 hours after they had overran
Ethiopia has launched two air raids against Eritrea in an escalation of
the border crisis between the two countries.
Eritrean anti-aircraft guns shot down one Ethiopian plane during an attack
on the airport in
the capital Asmara. There was another Ethiopian raid
to the south-east of the city.
Eritrea earlier said there were serious obstacles
to a joint American-Rwandan initiative to solve the dispute. The Eritrean
Government said the four-point plan was not controversial, but that serious
issues of detail and implementation remained.
The Ethiopians indicated their support for the
initiative, but the Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, said he had ordered Ethiopian
defence forces to take all necessary measures to safeguard the country's
The plan provides for an Eritrean withdrawal,
the deployment of an observer force, the return of the previous civilian
administration and an investigation of the rival claims to the disputed
Ethiopian soldier with a rocket launcher
June 15, 1998
Ethiopia, Eritrea move to end border war
Ethiopia and Eritrea have agreed to halt
any further air strikes on each other's territory while they continue efforts
to find a solution to their border conflict.
Earlier, a team of American
officials met the Eritrean President, Isayas Aferwerki, after holding talks
in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
They said there was willingness
on the part of both sides to engage with a third party to find a solution.
The Rwandan Vice-President,
Paul Kagame, also met the Eritrean leadership on Friday.
A delegation of four regional
leaders - the Presidents of Burkino Faso, Rwanda, Djibouti and Zimbabwe
- was due to start mediation efforts this week under the umbrella of the
Organisation of African Unity.
Diplomats have expressed
concern at the continued build-up of troops by both sides.
Ethiopia has repeated
its refusal to enter direct negotiations until Eritrea withdraws its troops
from the disputed area.
AMNESTY DECLARES WAR ON CHILD
Amnesty says 300.000 child soldiers are fighting
A new generation of weapons light enough for 10-year-olds
to use is helping to create armies of child soldiers, according to Amnesty
The human rights group estimates there are 300,000
child soldiers around the world in a new report which supports a campaign
to raise the recruitment age for armies from 15 to 18.
"The development of lightweight automatic weapons
that are light enough and simple enough means that 10-year-olds can carry
and use these weapons as effectively as an adult," says human rights lawyer
"Once you indoctrinate the children and particularly
if you provide them with drugs and alcohol they become very effective killers,
very effective torturers. Once you break that inhibition it tends to go
She adds that young children could not have fought
in the same way in World War II because weapons were far heavier and more
The minimum recruitment age of 15 was laid down
as part of what Amnesty describes as "a weak compromise" when the United
Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child was negotiated in 1989.
It has since been ratified by every country except
the United States and Somalia.
Ms Brett says that in practice, because of a lack
of birth registers in many countries, children aged between 12 and 14 were
being passed off as 15. And some armed groups even recruited children under
Girls used as sex slaves
Uganda, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Sierra Leone are
among countries where armed groups recruit children.
The Amnesty report, 'In The Firing Line', says
the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebel group in Uganda has systematically
abducted and recruited up to 8,000 children, mostly between 13 and 16.
"Children are beaten, murdered and forced to fight
well-armed government troops. They are chattels owned by the LRA leadership.
Girls are raped and used as sexual slaves," it adds.
One 15-year-old girl, forcibly recruited into
the LRA, told Amnesty how she was ordered to kill another child who tried
to flee, forced to watch as a boy was hacked to death for failing to raise
the alarm, and given 35 days' training before being sent off to fight.
The release of the report coincides with a meeting
of the UN Human Rights Commission to deliberate an "optional protocol"
to the 1989 convention to raise the minimum recruitment age.
The protocol would be adopted by countries if
they wished, and would not automatically become part of the convention.
Amnesty also said it hoped the establishment of
an International Criminal Court would make it possible to put on trial
those who used child fighters.
Rory Mungoven, the director of Amnesty's Asia
programme, says: "Sooner or later someone will be held accountable for
the recruitment of children. That is a precedent we can all look forward
IRAN v. AFGHANISTAN
IRAN REPORTS BORDER CLASH WITH TALEBAN
Iranian troops on exercise near the Afghan border
Iran says its armed forces have clashed with the Afghan Taleban
movement on the border between the two countries.
Tehran radio said Taleban militiamen fired light and heavy weapons
at a border post in the Salehabad region of Torbat-e-Jam, in the north
of Khorasan province, at 6:30 am local time (0300 GMT).
Iranian Revolutionary Guards "severely responded," forcing the
Taliban forces to retreat, it said.
A Taleban spokesman in Kandahar said the Iranian statement was a lie, and
there had been no firing from the Afghan side of the border. He accused
Iran of seeking a pretext for a wider conflict.
Iran sent tens of thousands of extra troops to the Afghan border,
after the Taleban expanded its area of control in Afghanistan in August
and September by driving back Iranian-backed groups.
Last week tension rose further between the two countries when
the Taleban authorities accused Iranian planes of violating Afghan air
Relations between Iran and Afghanistan deteriorated after the
killing in August of nine Iranian diplomats and an Iranian journalist in
northern Afghanistan. Iran is currently conducting military exercises involving
tens of thousands of troops on its border with Afghanistan.
The military manoeuvres, codenamed Zulfaqar 2, are the biggest
the country has ever staged - with some 200,000 troops expected to take
There has been a growing war of words betwen Tehran and the
Taleban; a spokesman in Kabul has warned that the Taleban would "target
Iranian cities" if their territory was attacked.
No sign of apology
Taleban leaders blamed the killings of the Iranian diplomats
on irregulars who seized the city from opposition forces.
Iran has demanded an apology from the Taleban and wants those
who responsible for the killings to be punished.
The Taleban say the Iranians were in Mazar-e-Sharif for military
and not diplomatic purposes at the time of their death.
Afghanistan is now 90% controlled by the Taleban, which wants
to take over the country's seat at the United Nations, still held by the
ousted government of Burhannudin Rabbani.
Iranian Revolutionary Guards raise their fists in support Tuesday in
Tehran as Ayatollah Ali Khameini announces his order for the country's
armed forces to prepare to take measures against the Taliban Islamic
militia in Afghanistan. Iran's leadership is outraged over the murder by
the militia of nine Iranian diplomats and a journalist after a raid on
the Iranian consulate in Afghanistan's northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.
Q & A: KASHMIR DISPUTE
By BBC News Online's Fergus
The low-level conflict in the disputed region of
Kashmir flared this week when India detected what it said were Pakistani-backed
infiltrators high in the Himalayas.
May 26, 1999
Who's involved in the dispute over Kashmir?
The territory of Kashmir was hotly contested even
before Indian and Pakistan won their independence from Britain in August
Under the partition plan provided by the Indian
Independence Act of 1947, Kashmir was free to accede to India or Pakistan.
The Maharaja, Hari Singh, wanted to stay independent,
but eventually decided to accede to India, signing over key powers to the
Indian government - in return for military aid and a promised referendum.
Since then, the territory has been the flash-point
for two of the three India-Pakistan wars: the first in 1947-8, the second
Since 1989, in addition to the rival claims of
Delhi and Islamabad to the territory, there has been a growing and often
violent separatist movement fighting for the independence of Kashmir.
What are the rival claims?
Islamabad says Kashmir should have become part
of Pakistan in 1947, because Muslims are in the majority in the region
Pakistan also argues that Kashmiris should be
allowed to vote in a referendum on their future, following numerous UN
resolutions on the issue.
Delhi, however, doesn't want international debate
on the issue, arguing that the Simla Agreement of 1972 provided for a resolution
through bilateral talks.
India points to the Instrument of Accession signed
in October 1947 by the Maharaja, Hari Singh.
Both India and Pakistan reject the so-called "third
option"of Kashmiri independence.
What is the Line of Control?
A demarcation line was originally established
in January 1949 as a ceasefire line, following the end of the first Kashmir
In July 1972, after a second conflict, the Line
of Control (LOC) was re-established under the terms of the Simla Agreement,
with minor variations on the earlier boundary.
What's the geography?
The LOC passes through a mountainous region around
5,000 metres high.
The conditions are so extreme that the bitter
cold claims more lives than the sporadic military skirmishes.
North of the LOC, the rival forces have been entrenched
on the Siachen glacier (more than 6,000 metres high) since 1984; it's the
highest battlefield on earth.
The LOC divides Kashmir on a two-to-one basis: Indian-administered Kashmir
to the east and south (population around nine million), which falls into
the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir; and Pakistani-administered Kashmir
to the north and west (population around 3 million), which is labelled
by Pakistan as "Azad" (Free) Kashmir.
What's the UN involvement?
The UN has maintained a presence in the disputed
area since 1949.
Currently, the LOC is monitored by the UN Military
Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP). It is commanded by Major-General
Jozsef Bali of Hungary.
According to the UN, their mission is "to observe,
to the extent possible, developments pertaining to the strict observance
of the ceasefire of December 1971".
As of 31 December 1998, nine UNMOGIP personnel
have been killed in the conflict.
Is religion an issue?
Religion is an important aspect of the dispute.
Partitition in 1947 gave India's Muslims a state of their own: Pakistan.
So a common faith underpins Pakistans claims to Kashmir, where many areas
The population of the Indian state of Jammu and
Kashmir is over 60% Muslim, making it the only state within India where
Muslims are in the majority. There have been sporadic but recently increasing
incidents of sectarian violence.
Who are the militants?
There are several groups pursuing the rival claims
Not all are armed, but since Muslim insurgency
began in 1989, the number of armed separatists has grown from hundreds
to thousands. The most prominent are the pro-Pakistani Hizbul-Mujahideen.
Islamabad denies providing them and others with logistical and material
The Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF)
was the largest pro-independence group, but its influence is thought to
have waned. Other groups have joined under the umbrella of the Hurriyat
(Freedom) Conference, which campaigns peacefully for an end to India's
presence in Kashmir.
What about human rights?
International human rights agencies have frequently expressed concern about
In a recent report, Amnesty International said
there was "a pattern of human rights abuses committed by Indian security
forces in connivance with armed groups".
In its World Report 1999, the Washington-based
group Human Rights Watch describes the massacres of Hindu civilians by
what it says are Pakistan-backed militant groups as "a deadly new development".
Additional troops were rushed in and heavy artillery pounded positions
taken by the suspected Islamic militants in the Kargil region of Indian-administered
After heavy exchanges with Pakistani soldiers,
an Indian army post was abandoned when it was hit by a mortar shell.
Helicopter gunships and war planes were sent in as India launched air strikes
for the first time in a quarter of a century.
Residents of Dras in the Kargil region began leaving their homes for safer
Soldiers patrolled the empty streets of Kargil town as thousands of residents
India revealed on Thursday that it had lost two war planes which Pakistan
said it had shot down. India described Pakistan's action as "hostile and
Kashmir: Indian troops on alert at the Kashmir ceasefire
Villagers living in the Pakistani part of Kashmir along the dividing
line at Chakoti fled their homes on Sunday during a lull in artillery battles
between India and Pakistan. Dozens of civilians on both sides have been
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