Sheila Rule, "Eritrean Rebels Claim Big Victory Over Ethiopia," The New York Times, March 27, 1988.
Eritrean guerrilla fighters have killed or captured 18,000 Ethiopian soldiers and three Soviet military advisers despite drought conditions that threaten seven million people with famine.
Eritrean rebels, who are seeking a separate homeland from Ethiopia, have waged war against the Government for 27 years. A representative of the Eritrean People's Liberation Front stated that an important military garrison town has been overrun and the rebels had "broken the backbone of the Ethiopian Army." The rebels would negotiate with the Soviet Union the release of the three Soviet military advisers to the Ethiopian military at a later date.
"Relief workers have warned that an escalation in fighting in Eritrea…has disrupted efforts to deliver supplies to drought victims." Areas under rebel control would receive food but areas where active war is going on would be hampered in relief activities. The Ethiopian Government and Western relief officials have stated that not enough food has reached the people in northern Ethiopia due to the fighting and as many as 90 trucks carry food aid have been disrupted.
The Red Cross has accused the Ethiopian Army, too, of limiting the number of relief trucks in the region unless the aid is targeted for land under its control. The Government has denied these accusations.