Sudan summoned Ethiopia’s ambassador to Khartoum to inform him that 29 corpses found on the banks of a river abutting Ethiopia were those of Ethiopian citizens from the Tigray ethnic group, Sudan’s foreign ministry said.
It said in a statement late on Tuesday that the ambassador had been summoned on Aug. 30 and was told that the bodies had been found between July 26 and Aug. 8 on the Sudanese side of the Setit River, known in Ethiopia as the Tekeze.
The corpses were identified by Ethiopians residing in the Wad al Hulaywah area of eastern Sudan, it said.
The statement did not say how the people died.
Dina Mufti, spokesperson for the Ethiopian Foreign Affairs Ministry, did not immediately respond to the request for comment
The river is the current de facto borderline between territory controlled by Tigrayan forces and those controlled by Amhara forces allied with Ethiopia’s federal government. At a different point, the river also separates Sudan from Ethiopia.
Tensions between Sudan and Ethiopia have been running high because of a spillover 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 fled into eastern Sudan and there have been military skirmishes in an area of contested farmland along the border between Sudan and Ethiopia.
Internal conflict in Ethiopia has driven more than 50,000 refugees into Sudan in just over a month, triggering a complex aid operation in an impoverished region of Sudan.
And fears of unrest in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region spilling into Sudan were fuelled when several Sudanese soldiers were killed on Tuesday, in what Khartoum called an “ambush” by Ethiopian forces and militias inside its borders.
Ethiopian officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the incident.
Sudan has boosted its military presence near its eastern frontier since the conflict between Ethiopian federal forces and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) started on Nov. 4.
But forces from Ethiopia’s Amhara ethnic group, which back the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, have also expanded their activity, leading to other incidents in long-disputed farmlands near the border where refugees have been crossing, Sudan’s information minister Faisal Salih told Reuters.
Sudanese authorities said on Sunday they had confiscated a weapons shipment that arrived by air from Ethiopia on suspicion the arms were destined for use in “crimes against the state”.
Sudan’s interior ministry said later on Monday that the shipment had turned out to be part of a legal cargo imported by a licensed arms trader.