UN mission confirms shooting incident in Ethiopia-Eritrea security zone

4 November 2003

The United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) today confirmed a report from an Eritrean officer that a shooting took place over the weekend and said it was investigating the incident.

A commander of the Eritrean militia in the area reported to UNMEE that two Eritrean militiamen on patrol duty in the village of Fawlina came under close-range small-arms fire from three to five uniformed men last Saturday morning. In the exchange of fire, one Eritrean apparently was killed.

“UNMEE can confirm from forensic evidence that a firing incident did take place. The Ethiopian Ministry of Defence has categorically denied any Ethiopian military involvement in this incident,” the Mission’s Force Commander, Major General Robert Gordon, said in a statement. He added that investigators had visited the area.

Fawlina is two or three kilometres inside the temporary security zone (TSZ), UNMEE said. A permanent boundary between the two countries is to be demarcated.

General Gordon said that UNMEE deeply deplores any activity in the TSZ that could destabilize the peace process. The UN Security Council expressed concern in September about a reported increase in incursions into the TSZ and a rising number of mine incidents in the area, including the new placing of mines.