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Buffer between Ethiopia, Eritrea ‘calm and stable,’ UN mission says

Buffer between Ethiopia, Eritrea ‘calm and stable,’ UN mission says

Despite accusations of violations of the temporary buffer zone between Ethiopia and Eritrea, the United Nations mission in the region (UNMEE) today said the area was "calm and stable" and that the peace process remained on track.

Describing the latest claim, UNMEE spokesman Jean Victor Nkolo told reporters in Asmara that according to Eritrean authorities, 250 Ethiopian Armed Forces (EAF) soldiers had opened fire last Friday around the Eritrean police position at Gegew.

"UNMEE's Indian battalion located at the 'Italian Fort' heard six shots allegedly from the direction of the village Hambokale [in the Temporary Security Zone, close to the its southern boundary], Mr. Nkolo said. "INDBAT observed no Ethiopian attack as claimed by the Eritrean authorities."

The spokesman noted that the Indian peacekeepers observed eight or nine unidentified soldiers, possibly EAF, Eritrean militia or police, approaching from the village of Melahkale to Hambokale, who later withdrew. "INDBAT believes that the shots heard were warning shots," he said.