A military mobilisation is under way in Eritrea in which reservists up to the age of 55 have been recalled to replenish the army, reports say.
On Thursday, many in the capital, Asmara, were given notices and taken within hours to front lines along the country’s shared border with Ethiopia’s Tigray region, sources told BBC Tigrinya.
Reservists in many other parts of the country have also been told to report to their respective head offices.
Recently, roundups have been intensified in many areas including Asmara. Security forces are stopping people to check if they are exempted from military conscription.
Some reservists were told to bring their own supplies such as blankets and water containers, sources say.
There were scenes of mothers, children and wives crying as they bid farewell to their sons, fathers, brothers and husbands.
The latest mobilisation has created fears that the conflict in neighbouring Ethiopia’s Tigray region might escalate further.
Fighting between the Ethiopian government and Tigrayan forces resumed last month after five months of a humanitarian truce.
Tigray leaders have accused Eritrea of joining forces with Ethiopian troops in the western parts of their shared border.
Both Ethiopian and Eritrean authorities have not responded to requests for comments – but Eritrean authorities had accused the Tigray forces of planning to attack them.
Eritrean forces fought alongside the Ethiopian government army against Tigrayan forces in the initial phase of the war. They were accused of atrocities – which Eritrean officials denied.
The US has put sanctions on the Eritrean Defence Forces and the ruling PFDJ organisation in response to their involvement in the Ethiopian conflict.