Ethiopia PM accuses Eritrea of kidnapping

2012-04-17 17:39

Addis Ababa - Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi accused Eritrea on Tuesday of abducting dozens of Ethiopian miners from the country's northwest, in a potential escalation of tension between the arch-enemies.

Ethiopian troops crossed into the Red Sea state last month and attacked what they said were military bases used by rebels to stage raids, including a January attack that killed five Western tourists in Ethiopia's remote Afar region.

These attacks were the first on Eritrean soil that Ethiopia has admitted to since the end of a devastating 1998-2000 border war, sparking concern that their unresolved frontier spat could escalate into a full-scale war.

"They [Eritrean government] recently kidnapped more than 100 young miners who were mining gold in our country's northwest. And in the northeast, they killed some tourists and kidnapped others," Meles said, the latter referring to the January raid.

"We have taken proportional measures in both locations," he told lawmakers in response to a question on relations with Eritrea.

Meles did not specify when and exactly where the abductions in the country's northwest Tigray region took place, nor the measures his country had subsequently taken.

Eritrean officials were not immediately available for comment, but they often dismiss their rivals' allegations as a ploy to harm Eritrea's reputation.

Ethiopia routinely accuses Asmara of supporting Ethiopian separatist groups. It blamed an Afar rebel movement for the kidnapping of Westerners in its northern Afar region in 2007, and again for the attack in the same area earlier this year.

Afar rebels

Gunmen killed two Germans, two Hungarians and an Austrian in a dawn attack on a group of tourists in the remote Afar region on January 17, and seized two Germans and two Ethiopians.

A rebel group in the Afar region said in February it had freed the two Germans, although there has been no official confirmation of the release.

After the border war, the Hague-based Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission ruled that the flashpoint town of Badme belonged to Eritrea but the village remains in the hands of its neighbour, which is calling for negotiations to implement the ruling.

Asmara blames the international community for the impasse, and President Isaias Afewerki last month accused the United States of plotting the Ethiopian raids.

Ethiopia is Washington's biggest ally in the Horn of Africa region and has deployed troops in lawless Somalia to fight al Qaeda-linked insurgents in Somalia.

"The military incursions were plotted by Washington with the aim of diverting attention from implementing the boundary commission's decision," Isaias said in an interview with state television.

Read more on:    ethiopia  |  eritrea  |  east africa  |  abductions

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Prince George the green prince?

Prince Charles hopes his grandson's love of the outdoors will become a passion for the environment.



One man's $1 million vision for an eco Africa
China's air pollution at doomsday levels
Keep food fresher for longer
Hurricanes, earthquakes and floods – What climate change really means for us

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly


The pace may be slow today and you may struggle to get things off the ground level, but it is important to focus on the more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.