January 27, 2012

Ethiopia Rebels Say Government Blocks Release of Kidnapped German Tourists

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 6:11 pm
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An Ethiopian rebel group said the country’s government is blocking the release of two German hostages the fighters are holding. Communications Minister Bereket Simon denied the allegation.

The two Germans and two Ethiopians were abducted during a Jan. 17 attack on a group of tourists on the edge of Erta Ale volcano in the northeastern region of Afar that killed two Germans, two Hungarians and an Austrian.

“Bianca Irmer and Jurgen Quick are in our custody and safe and we are more than ready to set them free,” the Afar Revolutionary Democratic Unity Front, or Arduf, said in an e- mailed statement today. “Ethiopian authorities in the Afar region are out to render these efforts null and void in order to get a plausible pretext to unleash a war on neighboring Eritrea.”

Arduf is backed by Eritrea and the rebel group is responsible for the hostages’ fate, Bereket said in a phone interview today from Addis Ababa, the capital.

“These are the terrorists who attacked the tourists and now they are pretending they have an iota of humanity,” he said. “It is a far-fetched and pretentious accusation.”

Ethiopia’s government has accused Eritrea of being behind the kidnappings and killings of the tourists. The hostages were taken after a gun battle between the Ethiopian army and Arduf in which 16 Ethiopian soldiers died, the group said.

“We have no contact with the Eritrean government but we know for sure they have to take responsibility to ensure their release otherwise they will face the consequences,” Bereket said.

Eritrea and Ethiopia fought a border war from 1998 to 2000 that killed 70,000 people, according to the Brussels-based International Crisis Group. The border dispute that caused the war has not been resolved and troops from both sides are still a heavy presence on parts of the divide.

To contact the reporter on this story: William Davison in Addis Ababa at


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