Khartoum: Sudan's army accused Ethiopian troops on Tuesday of attacking a military camp in northern Sudan and killing about 19 people.

A senior Ethiopian official played down the allegation, saying any "minor incident" on the border could be easily resolved.

Sudan's military spokesman said the attack took place early on Monday in the Jabel Hantub area of Sennar state.

"They hit a camp belonging to the central reserve police and they killed about 19 people," the Sudanese army spokesman said. He did not know how many people were injured.

The central reserve police are a heavily armed military unit and are often deployed along border areas or to defend the capital Khartoum.

"This was an attack and we don't know the reason -- we have no problem with Ethiopia and there are no border disputes or tribal clashes in that area," the army spokesman said.

Bereket Simon, special adviser to Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, told Reuters in Addis Ababa the problem was that the long frontier was not properly demarcated.

"Sometimes locals from both sides trespass and minor incidents do happen," he said, denying troops were involved.

"If there was a minor incident involving local inhabitants ... Ethiopia is confident both governments will solve the problem in accordance with the prevailing peaceful norms we maintain."

Sudan signed a north-south peace deal in 2005 which ended Africa's longest civil war and also improved relations with its east African neighbours.

One Sudanese security source and another government official said the attack may have been because Sudan had given refuge a to local Ethiopian officials few weeks earlier and had refused to hand them over to Addis Ababa.

It was not clear why the officials sought refuge in Sudan. Ethiopia is fighting rebels from the Oromo region which borders Sudan and who want greater autonomy for their areas.

The Sudan army spokesman said a joint Ethiopian-Sudanese committee had been formed to investigate the attack.

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