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.
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.
Click below for the Audio interview
ሚኒስተር ዜና ኤርትራ ዓሊ ዓብዱ በብዕለቱ ብዝመፁ ፅውፅዋያት አይንደናገርን ኢና ክብሉ ንክሲ ኢትዮጵያ መልሲ ሂቦም
ናይ ኢትዮጵያ ቀዳማይ ሚኒስተር አቶ መለስ ዜናዊ ንፓርላማኦም ኣብ ዝሃብዎ መግለፂ መንግስቲ ኤርትራ ኣብ ሰሜናዊ ምዕራብ ኢትዮጵያ ኣብ ተግባር ምእራይ ማዕድን ወርቂ ተዋፊሮም ንዝነበሩ ልዕሊ ሚእቲ መንእሰያት ጨውዩ ክብሉ ተዛሪቦም።
መንግስቲ ኤርትራ ናብ ልዝብ አይምለስን እንተበለ'ውን መንግስቶም ገና ብዘይምስልካይ ከም ዝፍትን ጠቂሶም፡ ኤርትራ ብዝምልከት ክንስዕቦም ኢና ዝበልዎም ካልኦት ነጥብታት'ውን ተዛሪቦም'ለው።
ነዚ ምላሽ ክህብሉ ዝተሓቱ ሚኒስተር ዜና ኤርትራ አቶ ዓሊ ዓብዱ "ጉዳይና ምስ ተላኣኣኺ ዘይኮነስ ምስ ለአኺ'ዩ "ኢሎም። ነዚ'ውን ኤርትራ ጉዳያ ናብ ሕቡራት መንግስታት አቅሩባ'ላ ኢሎም።
ሙሉእ ትሕዝትኡ ንምስማዕ ናብ ምልክት ድምፂ ብምኻድ ጠውቁ
State of Eritrea ሃገረ ኤርትራ Hagere Ertra دولة إرتريا
Anthem: Ertra, Ertra, Ertra Eritrea, Eritrea, Eritrea
Capital (and largest city) Asmara
15°20′N 38°55′E / 15.333°N 38.917°E / 15.333; 38.917
Official language(s) Tigrinya, Arabic, English Other languages Tigre, Saho, Bilen, Afar, Kunama, Nara, Hedareb,.
Ethnic groups 60% Tigrinya, 30% Tigre, 4% Afar, 3% Saho, 3% Kunama
Demonym Eritrean Government Provisional government
- President Isaias Afewerki
- From Italy November 1941
- From United Kingdom under UN Mandate 1951
- from Ethiopia de facto 24 May 1991
- From Ethiopia de jure 24 May 1993
- Total 117,600 km2 (100th)
45,405 sq mi - Water (%) 0.14%
- 2009 estimate 5,224,000 (109th)
- 2008 census 5,291,370
- Density 43.1/km2 (165th)
GDP (PPP) 2010 estimate
- Total $3.625 billion
- Per capita $681
GDP (nominal) 2010 estimate
- Total $2.117 billion
- Per capita $397
HDI (2007) steady 0.472 (low) (165th)
Currency Nakfa (ERN)
Time zone EAT (UTC+3)
- Summer (DST) not observed (UTC+3)
Drives on the right
ISO 3166 code ER
Internet TLD .er
Calling code 291
1 ,. National TV: Eritrea Television (ERI-TV)
Eritrea (play /ˌɛrɨˈtreɪ.ə/ or /ˌɛrɨˈtriːə/; Ge'ez: ኤርትራ ʾErtrā, Arabic: إرتريا Iritrīyā), officially the State of Eritrea, is a country in the Horn of Africa. The capital is Asmara. It is bordered by Sudan in the west, Ethiopia in the south, and Djibouti in the southeast. The northeast and east of the country has an extensive coastline on the Red Sea, directly across from Saudi Arabia and Yemen. The Dahlak Archipelago and several of the Hanish Islands are part of Eritrea. Eritrea's size is approximately 117,600 km2 (45,406 sq mi) with an estimated population of 6 million...