The United Nations Security Council joined the United States on Thursday in calling on the northeast African nation of Eritrea to withdraw its troops from the border with Djibouti after clashes this week killed at least nine Djiboutians and wounded more than 50 others.
A statement approved by the 15 council members urged both sides, but "in particular Eritrea," to refrain from a troop buildup and singled out Eritrea to show "maximum restraint" and withdraw forces from the border. Hostilities have taken place along Red Sea shipping lanes.
The council called on the nations to resolve their differences "in a manner consistent with international law."
U.S. State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos said the hostilities "represent an additional threat to peace and security in the already volatile Horn of Africa." The region is considered strategically important because of its key shipping lanes into the Middle East.
Djibouti on Tuesday accused Eritrea — which has fought two conflicts with its regional neighbours since gaining independence in 1993 — of entering its territory to build defences.
Eritrea dismissed the U.S. criticism and charged that the American government was "currently embroiled in instigating, compounding and inflaming regional conflicts."
This week's violence is the first time in a decade that the two African nations have fought.
The U.S. has more than 1,200 troops stationed in Djibouti, where an anti-terrorism task force for the Horn of Africa is based. France also has a base in Djibouti, its former colony.