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Sudanese army says repulses border attack by Ethiopian forces

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
File photo shows Sudanese soldiers.

Sudan’s army says it has warded off an attempted incursion by Ethiopian forces into its territory, amid border tensions between the two African countries.

In a statement on Sunday, Sudan's Sovereign Council Chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who also serves as the head of the military, said in a press conference that the Sudanese troops forced the Ethiopian forces to retreat from Umm Barakit. The area sits within the disputed al-Fashaga border region, where there has been increased tension.

Burhan, who did not give further details, stressed that it showed how the military was protecting Sudan, days after a coup attempt was reported in the capital Khartoum.

The incursion came as reports said Ethiopian government sources said, "We deny the movement of our forces on the Sudanese border or their incursion into any area."

Tensions along the border between the two African neighbors have been running high since the outbreak of a conflict in Ethiopia's northern region of Tigray last year.

In November, Sudan's federal government accused the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) of attacking military bases across the north.

Three weeks later, the government declared victory when it gained control of regional capital Mekelle. However, the TPLF forces resumed fighting later and retook Mekelle and most of Tigray at the end of June after the government withdrew its soldiers and declared a ceasefire.

Millions of people are at risk of starvation as the brutal civil war in Tigray is reaching a turning point, with thousands of captured Ethiopian government troops arriving in the region.

Tens of thousands of refugees from Ethiopia have also fled to eastern Sudan to escape the fighting, which is concentrated on al-Fashqa. The fertile farmland border area is claimed by Sudan but settled by Ethiopian farmers.

Also jeopardizing the stability in the region is a dispute over a giant hydropower dam on the Blue Nile, known as the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which Ethiopia plans to fill with water.

Khartoum condemned Addis Ababa’s start of the second phase of filling the controversial dam earlier this year, warning that the move violated existing agreements between the two countries.

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