A recount of the battle of: few of the gruesome pictures
Ethiopioan leader Melles Zenawi Unknown Ethiopian soldier
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Tsorona, Eritrea (March 17, 1998)

Tsorona is a small town located at the border between Eritrea and Ethiopia. Two years before the border war between Eritrean and Ethiopia began, nobody would have known where Tsorona was. However, thanks to the Ethiopian commanders who unleashed a massive offensive against the well entrenched Eritreans and there was an unimaginable loss of lives. As a result, Tsorona has become a symbol for expressing tragedy, massacre, genocide, poor military tactic and carnage. Every journalist who has visited the battle field of Tsorona has had no words to describe the foolishness of the Ethiopian commanders that in a two day battle lost 57 tanks, many armored vehicles, a MIG 23 and an astonishing casualties estimated at more than ten thousand soldiers. The words and pictures the journalist used to describe the battle will not come close to the reality. The world may never fully realize the magnitude and intensity of the carnage that took place in Tsorona.

The Eritreans, although relieved that the offensive was foiled, were deeply shocked by the killing and massacre of the Ethiopian soldiers. They mourned the dead of the very Ethiopian soldiers that came to kill them. Each one of the interviewed Eritrean soldiers expressed their sadness and grief at what happened in Tsorona. Surprisingly, the Ethiopians showed no respect for their own dead soldiers. The total disregard and disrespect of the Ethiopian leaders for their own Ethiopian soldiers is well expressed by no other than the Ethiopian spokes woman Salome. When confronted with evidence of the carnage by journalists, she denied the defeat by saying "it was a drama staged by the Eritreans for the benefit of journalists". To add insult to the injury, she said "can you tell by their smell that these dead soldiers were Ethiopians". According to Ethiopia it was a skirmish. However, according to the world and those who witnessed the carnage, it was a military blunder of the highest order.

Tsorona has gone into the history books as one of the places where the highest casualty rate was recorded in a single battle. In the links provided below, you will find an account of what the journalists saw after the battle ended. What is not told yet is the account of the soldiers from both sides who have gone through hell and survived the carnage.


Some of the reports by journalists and eyewitnesses

Associated press:

Ethiopia, which did not directly acknowledge a battlefield defeat, has accused Eritrea of lying and called Eritrea's tours of the front a ``drama staged for the benefit of journalists.'' Full article

The Boston Globe, By Dominic Chavez Pictures

Tsorona is the place where tens of thousands of soldiers died about four months ago. Full article

The Boston Globe, By John Danneley

Western diplomats in both nations and military analysts in Washington lean toward the higher, Eritrean figure (ten thousand soldiers dead). …..Ethiopia declined to allow the Globe access to its front line.

'We sadly accept a level of violence in Africa,'' said former US Agency for International Development chief J. Brian Atwood, ''that we wouldn't accept in Europe.''Full article

AL Ahram, By David Herst

four sources: the mines, pin-point artillery fire which the gunners had been perfecting for months, the trenches, and, finally, their own officers at the rear, who shot them if they turned and ran.

Basically, it was ignorant Oromo peasants whom it selected as human minesweepers, and Tigrayan officers who shot these wretches from the rear. Yet it showed hardly less contempt for its own people.
Full article 1, Full article 2

Washinagton Post, By Karl Vick

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has pointedly observed that the larger country should prevail because it can bring more "resources" to the battlefront. Ethiopia has 60 million people. "The question is, when does the personal cost become too much to pay?" Full article

Jane’s Intelligence By Geordge Bloch

When journalists were allowed to visit on 17 March, they were horrified by the quantity of bodies they found in front of Eritrean positions. Full article

More reading

Middel East Times, By Marin Stolk

As one journalist who visited the Tsorona battlefield remarked "Wars are always absurd. [But] it is impossible to stand over the mutilated piles and not ask what in this whole conflict could be worth [these Ethiopian soldiers] to be lying there unrecognized and unheralded." Full article

Reuters, By Alex last

"The inhumane (Ethiopian) clique had forcibly led some 5,000 farmers carrying arms and ammunition on their backs and on pack animals to the war front and used them as cannon fodder in the fighting," Full article

Eritrea Profile By Alemseged Tesfay
..... no one in Eritrea is gloating over Egri Mekhel [Tsorona], a major military score though it is for Eritrea. If it is any consolation, Eritrean mothers also happen to have enough heart to be shedding a tear or two on behalf of their bereaved Ethiopian counter-parts. Full article
Visafric Report
It was with profound sadness that Eritreans watched footage of the war showing Ethiopian soldiers who died in the latest Ethiopian offensive. This is not a matter of winning or losing. Although Eritreans are ready more than ever to defend their newly independent country, they do not celebrate this carnage of Ethiopians. Eritreans know the ugly realities of war too much to derive joy from the death of so many Ethiopians. What they want and demand is that Ethiopia ends its war of aggression.
Full article

Daily Mail & Guardian By Inigo Gilmore
To the rear of the trenches the limbs of half-buried Ethiopian soldiers protruded from the defensive mud bank, their hands reaching out as if pleading for help. Under a blazing sun the putrefying stench of rotting flesh stung my senses. Full story

Tsorona Pictures from fotofinder

By Prof. Habtamu Bihonlinge (Ethiopian)
..... Let me not even mention the unmentionable "T" word (as in Tsorona). The very sound of the word sends a cold shiver down any Ethiopian spine.....

"Few Ethiopians abroad or in Addis can tell you the name of a single person in the rank and file of the Ethiopian army that they might know in person. I certainly can't. This is because the army is traditionally the province of the poorest in the society, mostly from the rural areas. This is also the reason why Ethiopian rulers seem to traditionally care less whether these "wretched of the earth" live or die. They are the sacrificial lambs, the throwaway of society".

Full article

Prepared by Ertra.com, Feb, 2001