Government forces ''effectively smashed'' the Eritrean secessionist movement that has been fighting the central government for more than 20 years in Africa's longest guerrilla war, according to the official Ethiopian news agency.
The agency's assertion came against the background of diplomatic reports in Nairobi, Kenya, of large-scale Ethiopian troop movements in the strategic Red Sea province.
Eritrean guerrillas have been fighting for the independence of the province since 1961, saying it was illegally annexed by the late Emperor Haile Selassie. He was overthrown seven years ago by young leftist officers who perpetuated his policy of stamping out the nationalists by force.
Diplomatic sources in Nairobi said that during the past few weeks the pro-Moscow Marxist rulers of Ethiopia had moved tens of thousands of troops and armor into Eritrea and neighboring Tigre Province.