Sudanese protesters closed the Gallabat land border crossing with Ethiopia after three merchants were kidnapped by a militia, demanding their immediate release as the national army deployed reinforcements to the area.
Sudan's eastern border has been witnessing tensions between the Sudanese and Ethiopian armies since December after Khartoum took back control of al-Fashaga area.
On Saturday, the Ethiopian ‘Shifta’ militia infiltrated the Sudanese border at a depth of seven km and kidnapped three merchants, prompting the Sudanese army to send additional military reinforcements to the area.
Since losing control over the fertile Fashaga region, the militia, backed by the Ethiopian Federal Army, has kidnapped a number of Sudanese citizens, aiming to seize their lands and farms or request ransom.
The "Sudan Tribune" daily said angry protesters staged on Sunday a sit-in in the Basunda area, in the eastern al-Qadarif state, forcing the closure of the nearby Gallabat crossing and the roads taken by border merchants.
According to the newspaper, the kidnapping took place amid heavy shooting at the merchants who were on motorcycles in the area.
The militias demanded a ransom of SDG5 million (about $16,000) for the release of the abductees, while the Sudanese authorities pushed military reinforcements to the state immediately after the incident.