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Eritrea counts 19 000 soldiers killed in war

NAIROBI – About 19 000 Eritrean soldiers were killed during the two-and-a-half-year war with Ethiopia, which ended last year, President Isias Afewerki said on Wednesday in the capital Asmara.

It was the first time that Eritrea has given an official figure for its casualties, while the number of wounded soldiers was not disclosed.

Afewerki was apparently responding to popular demands for the government to announce the number of dead in the conflict, which was ended last June.

Eritrea has a population of 3,5 million and nearly every family has a son or brother or father in the army.

Ethiopia, whose population is 60 million, has not disclosed its casualties.

The two countries on the Horn of Africa signed a peace agreement in June 2000, as a result of which 4 500 United Nations blue helmets are currently patrolling a 25-kilometre-wide buffer zone along the thousand- kilometre border.

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