Sudan's armed military department have accused Ethiopian troops of executing seven Sudanese soldiers and a civilian who were captives, reads a statement published by the Sudanese armed forces on Sunday. “The Sudanese Armed Forces, while extending their sincere condolences to the families of the honourable martyrs, affirmed unequivocally to the honourable Sudanese people that this treacherous situation will not pass without a response, and it will respond to this cowardly behaviour” the statement further read, pointing towards a possible ‘military’ reaction from the Sudanese militia.
The statement also pointed out gross and wanton violations of international norms and rules citing that “in a manner that contradicts all the laws and of war and international humanitarian law, the Ethiopian army executed seven Sudanese soldiers and a citizen who were prisoners of war and then presented them to their fellow citizens with all meanness”. It appears the long winding squabbles between the two countries are still far from ending.
Tensions between Sudan and Ethiopia have run high in recent years because of a spill over of the conflict in Ethiopia's northern Tigray region and Ethiopia's construction of a giant hydropower dam on the Blue Nile. Tens of thousands of refugees have escaped into eastern Sudan and there have been military skirmishes in an area of highly contested farmland along the border between Sudan and Ethiopia. The already strained relationship between the two countries is showing signs of boiling over into protracted conflict and there is need to trace how and when the relations soured.
The boundary tiff between Sudan and Ethiopia has spurned over a century concerning the territories surrounding the ‘shared’ boarders adjacent to the Blue Nile. Both countries have taken up a blame game, indicting either country for certain acts of breaching territorial integrity and state sovereignty. Early last year, Sudan accused an Ethiopian military aircraft of crossing into its territory. Shortly after these serious accusations, the Sudanese army reportedly advanced to the west of Ethiopia's Gondar region near the border, while residents and government officials claimed some members of the military looted cattle and burned farmlands belonging to Ethiopian farmers.
Mutual suspicion and disagreements over territory have long been flash points in relations between the neighbouring countries. Treaties drawn up in 1902 and 1907 between Ethiopia and Britain were intended to define the border between Sudan and Ethiopia. However Ethiopia has long claimed that parts of the land given to Sudan actually belong to them. Decades of friction and negotiations seemingly ended in 2008, when a "soft border" compromise was reached between the countries.
The agreement only subsisted until the subsequent toppling of Ethiopia's Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) in 2018 leading to the resurrection of the ‘dormant’ feud. Ever since, the two countries returned to their hostile confrontations over the mooted boarder, a fragile peace between the two countries began to unravel in November 2020, after conflict broke out in Ethiopia's northern Tigray region along the disputed border. The two countries appear to be highly invested in the dispute and the latest developments are a far cry from an amicable resolution of the dispute.