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Ethiopia Says It Foiled Eritrean Attack

The Associated Press
Thursday, February 1, 2007; 10:53 PM

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia -- Ethiopia's government said Thursday it had foiled a bomb attack by bitter rival Eritrea targeting an African leaders summit.

An annual African Union meeting was held Monday and Tuesday in Ethiopia's capital attended by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, several Africa leaders and representatives of the Arab League and European Union.

"The terrorist attacks had been planned to be carried out during the 8th African Union Summit," said a statement from security and anti-terrorism department of Ethiopia's federal police.

Police apprehended the alleged masterminds of the alleged attack "just ahead of the summit," it said without identifying the suspects or saying how many there were.

There was no immediate way of independently verifying the claim and Eritrean officials were not immediately available for comment.

Ethiopia often has accused Eritrea of planting bombs in its territory and supporting rebels groups fighting low-level insurgencies against the government.

Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after a 30-year guerrilla war, but their border was never settled. The two countries fought a bitter territorial war between 1998 and 2000 and U.N. peacekeepers now patrol the border region.

Ethiopia and Eritrea are accused of backing rival sides in Somalia. Ethiopia claimed it killed Eritrean troops fighting in Somalia alongside an Islamic movement that Ethiopian forces helped oust.

The AU meeting discussed a peacekeeping mission to Somalia.

"Information was attained prior to the African Union summit that senior Eritrean government officials were involved in secretly placing explosives in Addis Ababa," government spokesman Zemedkun Teckle said.

"We have presented the explosives for display to the public," he added, referring to a device shown on the state-owned television station's evening news broadcast.

Cmdr. Demsash Hailu, the federal police spokesman, said authorities were investigating and would release more details on Friday.

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki did not attend the AU summit because it was held in Ethiopia.

© 2007 The Associated Press