ETHIOPIAN OFFICIALS HAVE confirmed that a group of gunmen attacked a number of foreign tourists in the north of the country, killing five, wounding two and kidnapping another two.
The attack occurred before dawn on Tuesday and officials have placed the blame on men from the neighbouring, rival country Eritrea.
The Daily Telegraph reports that the group included nationals from Austria, Belgium, Germany, Hungary and Italy.
Two Germans, two Hungarians and an Austrian were among the victims. Two Belgians are seriously hurt, while two Italians escaped unharmed, according to an Interpol report.
The two people kidnapped are understood to be German citizens. Another two people – Ethiopians – have also been taken hostage.
The tourists were visiting a volcanic region in Ethiopia’s northern Afar region when the gunmen appeared. Tour packages are offered in the area to view salt extraction from salt lakes and trek around the spouting lava pools.
The Ethiopian government official described the gunmen as “trained and armed by the Eritrean government” but that claim was dismissed as an “absolute lie” by Eritrea’s ambassador to the African Union.
Girma Asmerom said the attack is an internal Ethiopian matter.
Ethiopia and Eritrea fought a border war from 1998 to 2000, claiming the lives of about 80,000 people. Last year, the UN found that Eritrea was behind a plot to attack an African Union summit in the country.
-Additional reporting by AP