The Ethiopian government has been showing journalists around the areas of Eritrea they have won back from secessionist guerrillas -- and some which have been damaged in the fighting.
The Ethiopian government has been showing journalists around the areas of Eritrea they have won back from secessionist guerrillas -- and some which have been damaged in the fighting. One of the cities on the government-sponsored tour was the port of Massawa on the Red Sea, which the press contingent reached on Sunday (11 February). This is one of the first films to show present conditions in the area.
SYNOPSIS: The port of Massawa and its harbour were vital objectives for the guerrillas. The port facilities would have been priceless in their bid to establish a link across the Red Sea with sympathetic Arab governments.
This is what is left of the city's main hospital. The secessionists never did manage to take their objective completely, but their shell-fire left ninety five per cent of the city in ruins. The government claims the heavy artillery fire not only destroyed the hospital, but also killed most of the patients who were inside at the time. The E.P.L.F....the Eritrean People's Liberation Front, who had reached the outskirts of the town during the artillery barrage, were wiped out by government forces in a successful counter-attack.
Addis Ababa says their 505 Task Corps, which took the area from the guerrillas, captured one thousand assault rifles, large quantities of explosives and hand grenades, clothing, "subversive literature" and hashing. The rebel forces were decimated.
Three thousand secessionist irregulars lost their lives round the city. Government casualties amounted to fifty. That was the government claim, and local sources have supported it.