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Eritreans, Ethiopians ignore enmity in Durban

Athletes from Horn of Africa enemies Eritrea and Ethiopia hugged and took photographs of each other in Durban on Tuesday in a heart-warming prelude to the Africa Athletics Championships.

“It was a really powerful scene,” said an AFP eye-witness at the Kings Park athletics track where the five-day continental showpiece begins on Wednesday.

When teams from the two countries were paired in African Football Confederation (CAF) competitions, the Eritreans always withdrew.

Some of the best African athletes come from Eritrea and Ethiopia, although many will miss the Durban event, preferring to compete in Europe and take part in national trials ahead of the Rio Olympic Games during August.

Eritrea fought a three-decade war against Ethiopia before gaining independence in 1993 and a border disagreement led to hostilities resuming five years later.

Ethiopia still occupy the disputed land despite a United Nations finding that it belongs to Eritrea.

Isaias Afwerki has ruled Eritrea since independence with his government considered among the most repressive in Africa, leading to thousands fleeing the country each year.

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