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Eritrea Denies Charges It Backed Afar Attack

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Eritrea has called claims it was behind a deadly attack on foreigners in northern Ethiopia “an absolute lie.”

Eritrea's ambassador to the African Union, Girma Asmerom, made the statement Wednesday. He was replying to charges by an Ethiopian government spokesman that the attack was carried out by rebels armed and trained by the Eritrean government.

Ethiopia said Wednesday that the five people who died in the attack in the northern Afar region were two Germans, two Hungarians, and one Austrian national. Two Belgian nationals were reported wounded.

Officials also said two Germans and two Ethiopians were kidnapped in Tuesday's early-morning ambush.

Details are still emerging; it is not yet clear how many tourists were in the group. And earlier, Ethiopian officials had said the attack happened on Monday.

Ethiopian state television said Tuesday that at least one tourist survived the attack unharmed.

Ethiopia often accuses its neighbor of supporting militant groups inside its borders. Eritrea, once a part of Ethiopia, gained its independence in 1991 after a 30-year battle. The two Horn of Africa countries later fought a border war from 1998 to 2000, and tensions remain high.

The Afar region has ancient salt mines, hot springs and volcanoes that entice many sightseers. In 2007, a group of European tourists was kidnapped there, but they were later released

Article by VOA News