Renewed violent cross-border banditry by Ethiopian gunmen, referred to as shifta in the region, are reported from Galabat where Ethiopia borders Sudan’s El Gedaref state. In the latest reports, police found the lifeless body of Hasan Yaqoub (75) who worked at a kiln as a charcoal burner. They say that he was shot in the left eye, and his right hand had been severed.
On Saturday, a group of shifta reportedly penetrated Sudanese territory in the area, seized an agricultural tractor with its trailer, abducted its driver Idris Mohamed, and fled into Ethiopian territory.
The past weeks have seen an increase in such cross-border incidents, which prompted Sudanese authorities to close the crossing between Galabat in Sudan’s El Gedaref and Metema in northern Ethiopia last week.
El Jamri El Taher told Radio Dabanga that the movement of all people and goods between El Gedaref and Metema has completely stopped due to the closure of the border post by Sudanese authorities.
With the approach of the autumn season, he predicts an increase in the number and frequency of the shifta attacks “aimed at impeding the work of farmers”.
He referred to continuous public demands to intensify military presence and patrol the border strip, in addition to continuing to close the crossing until the attacks are resolved.
The 1,600 kilometre border between Sudan and Ethiopia was drawn in colonial times. No clear demarcation of the border has been made since the country became independent in 1956. The lack of clear border markers has made it easy for Ethiopian militants to occupy fertile farmlands in eastern El Gedaref.
Ethiopian farmers have been cultivating crops for decades along the border. The lands are protected by Ethiopian gunmen. Farmers in El Fashaga and the El Gedaref governor have demanded that these lands be returned to them.