Ethiopian air raid ends lull in border war Ethiopian bomb injures 11 civilians

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The Independent Online
WIND CHIMES on top of the Orthodox church still jangled as old women kissed the remains of the building blasted by Ethiopian aircraft in fresh fighting in a year-long border war.

Old sheets of iron from the church roof lay twisted on the ground in the rubble of a badly-damaged outer wall. Around the church were four craters where bombs had fallen.

"The church is a place of God, of peace, for the people. Why do they hit our church?" said thepriest as he surveyed the damage.

Adi Keih, 70 miles south of the capital, Asmara, was one of three towns well inside Eritrean territory hit in a co-ordinated Ethiopian air attack at lunchtime on Thursday. Eleven people were injured in the Adi Keih attack.

The Ethiopian government said it had targeted only military sites, but there was no sign of strategic targets around the church at Adi Keih.

The nearest official building was the school, where pupils were changing classrooms when two MiG fighter jets flew over the town at around 12.30pm, residents said.

Ten students were among the wounded, hospital workers said, although none were killed as the Eritrean foreign ministry had reported shortly after the bombing.

"Many [wounded] are suffering from extensive soft tissue loss, and some bone fractures which needed surgical work," said Dr Abraham Tekle.

The bomb strikes ended two weeks of relative calm in a year-long conflict in which tens of thousands have died, mainly in trench warfare along the front line.

The Ethiopian government said it also hit the main military camp at Sawa in north-western Eritrea on Thursday and a military target in the southern town of Mendefera.

Ethiopian television ran footage on Thursday showing smoke billowing from bomb sites the army said were in Sawa.

Adi Keih had been a garrison town for the Zalambessa front which lies 40 miles to the south. But since January nearly all troops have moved to the border as tensions rose before fighting erupted again on 6 February. A few soldiers ambled through town on Thursday, but there were no signs of a large military presence. (Reuters)