• Short Summary

    Ethiopia has launched an offensive against the Eritrean guerrillas who hold many parts of the north.

  • Description

    GV: Guerrilla infested hills near Asmara with damaged Soviet tank in foreground.

    GV: Another wrecked Soviet tank. (2 SHOTS)

    SV: Dead bodies. (3 SHOTS)

    CU: Burnt out Russian tank.

    GV ZOOM TO: Guerrillas in captured tank moving along road. (2 SHOTS)

    SCU: Eritrean Liberation Front member Mr. Adam Mikael in Paris speaking in English.

    MR. MIKAEL: "I'm of the view that this kind of offensive will bring a big change in the balance of forces in Eritrea. We will, as far as we feel concerned, and the people in Eritrea in general, persist in the (INDISTINCT) war until the just demands of the Eritrean people for national independence are met. Then the internationalisation of the conflict, the interference of foreign forces, has become a main factor of instability and tension in the region and huge...a big portion of Ethiopia's economy - 60 percent of the budget - is being spent on the war in Eritrea, and we feel that this will only close the doors to future co-operation and good neighbour relations between the countries.

    The situation has embarrassing overtones for Cuba and the Soviet Union who supported Eritrean independence until the revolution which established a pro-Soviet regime in Ethiopia. Soviet Union support for the Eritreans dated from the time when the former Italian colony's future was being decided by the United Nation in the early 1950s. Cuba helped the guerrillas too, taking some of them to Cuba for training.

    Initials JS/0110

    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

    Background: Ethiopia has launched an offensive against the Eritrean guerrillas who hold many parts of the north. Ethiopian leader Lieutenant Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam announced that the air, sea and land attack began on Monday night (15 May). The Damascus-based News Agency of the Eritrean Liberation Front confirmed that heavy fighting was raging around Adi Teklai, about 10 kilometres west of Asmara. A guerrilla spokesman said about half of the Ethiopian garrison - estimated at 40,000 men - had broken through the Eritrean lines around the city.

    SYNOPSIS: Asmara has been under seige since February 1975 when a string of villages and hilltop positions around the city were captured by guerrillas fighting to obtain independence for the strategic Red Sea province of Eritrea from Ethiopia. The guerrillas took control of 90 percent of the countryside - all but five cities. Colonel Mengistu's announcement on the fighting suggested that Cuban, Russian, South Yemeni and West German troops were joining Ethiopian forces in the largest offensive but subsequent reports failed to confirm that foreign troops were actively involved. Ethiopia's attack drew a statement in Paris last Tuesday (16 May) from Eritrean Liberation Front representative Mr. Adam Mikael.

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