In the 18th and 19th centuries, the town was a key node in the West-East trade route, linking the coastal ports of Massawa and Suakin with the Sudan and farther west. The town was conquered by Ottoman soldiers of Egyptian viceroy Muhammad Ali in 1840 during his military offensive into Sudan. In 1885, Kassala was subsequently captured by the Mahdists. In 1894, after the Battle of Kassala the Italians captured the city from the Mahdists. In 1897, the Kingdom of Italy returned Kassala to the Kingdom of Egypt under British leadership, in order to get international recognition of the Italian colony of Eritrea. In 1899, Kassala fell under the purview of Anglo-Egyptian Sudan until Sudanese independence in 1956.
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