Eritrea closes border crossing to Ethiopians, residents say

Eritrea closes border crossing to Ethiopians, residents say
FILE PHOTO: Ethiopia's and Eritrea's flags are displayed on the street ahead of Eritrea's President Isaias Afwerki's visit to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia July 13, 2018. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri/File Photo -
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Tiksa Negeri(Reuters)
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ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Eritrea has blocked entry for Ethiopians at one of the border crossings that opened this year after the neighbours ended a long military standoff and restored relations, Ethiopians who live near the crossing said on Friday.

It was not clear why Ethiopians were being prevented from entering at the Zalambessa crossing, which was shut on Thursday morning and remained closed on Friday, said Solomon Desta, a minibus driver on the Ethiopian side, speaking by phone.

The crossing opened in September, after the countries agreed to remove their troops as part of a reconciliation process.

Thousands of people have crossed since. Trade has flourished and families separated since war broke out between Ethiopia and Eritrea in 1998 have reunited.

A spokesman for Ethiopia's Foreign Ministry told reporters on Thursday that he had no information about any border restrictions. Eritrea's information minister, Yemane Ghebremeskel, did not respond to phone calls on Friday.

Tsegaye Kassaye, a tyre fixer on the Ethiopian side of the frontier, said by phone that Eritreans were being permitted to enter Eritrea, and Ethiopians were being allowed to leave.

(Reporting by Tiksa Negeri and Aaron Maasho; Writing by Maggie Fick; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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