Formation of the Ginda Front

Between the months of Feb and May 1990


The formation of Ginda Front where EPLF made the stand to block all Ethiopian Army's attempts to break through to retake the port city of Massawa.

EPLF armored division fighters in battle EPLF armored division fighters in battle

The Ginda Front

Following the successful conclusion of Operation Fenkil and the liberation of Massawa, the Ethiopian 2nd Revolutionary Army found itself in a precarious position, besieged by land and sea. From March to May 1990, the Ethiopian forces launched a relentless offensive to break through the Ginda Front and seize control of the Massawa line. This offensive saw the mobilization of the majority of Ethiopian forces from the Keren Front and other parts of Eritrea to the Ginda Front, transforming it into a bloody battlefield.

Establishing the Ginda Front

The Ginda Front was established as a strategic component of Operation Fenkil, designed to block Ethiopian reinforcements from Asmara and other parts of Eritrea. On February 8, 1990, as Operation Fenkil commenced, the Eritrean Peoples’ Liberation Front (EPLF) severed the Asmara-Massawa road at Gahtelai, causing the battle to diverge into two directions.

The 85th Division advanced from Gahtelai to Asmara, seizing control of Lower Dengolo on February 9. In collaboration with the units of the 61st Division, a defensive line was sustained on the right from Ginda to the cliffs of the eastern escarpments of the Great Rift Valley to the west.

The Battle Intensifies

On the morning of February 10, the EPLF Army initiated another attack, gaining control of Dengolo Lalai. The 85th Brigades promptly engaged the enemy, striving to capture the crucial hill of Gahiyat, to the left of Bonespiro, in the Ginda area.

Meanwhile, the 61st Division successfully repelled repeated enemy attempts to break through from Ginda to the North Sea. On this day, some units of the 85th Division advanced towards Re’si Adi and linked up with units of the 61st Division.

From March 1, 1990, to April 27, 1990, the Ethiopian Derg Army initiated major operations, each bearing different names, to dismantle the EPLF’s Army stationed on the Ginda Front following Operation Fenkil. To counter these campaigns, the EPLF units engaged in intense defensive combat.

As the enemy escalated its wave of attacks with airborne divisions, the EPLF responded by deploying additional units to the 61st and 85th Divisions, which had been engaged in heavy combat on the line from the Ginda area to the precarious escarpments in the west since February 13.

Reinforcements and Fortifications

On February 13, the 49th Brigade of the 96th Division was deployed from Massawa to Dengolo Lalai, while the 87th Brigade of the 61st Division was deployed from the Halhal Front to Gahiyat the following day.

Subsequently, on February 20, the entire 70th Division from Massawa and two brigades of the 96th Division from Rora Mensa’e joined the front, thereby strengthening the Ginda Front. Consequently, the EPLF Army began to fortify its defensive line, constructing fortifications while fiercely resisting the enemy’s attacks.

Relentless Enemy Counter-Offensive

The Ethiopian forces, on the other hand, mobilized numerous weapons and exploited the advantage of controlling the ruling areas to launch a series of major campaigns under various names, aiming to destroy the strongholds of the EPLF Army. Despite these efforts, the EPLF’s strategic positioning and relentless defense ensured that the Ginda Front remained a formidable barrier against the Ethiopian onslaught.

  • Every day we are making Eritrean history. Let’s tell them. Soon they may be forgotten.