UPDATE 2-Ethiopia says Eritrea-trained gunmen killed tourists

Tue Jan 17, 2012 8:43pm GMT

* Addis Ababa says gunmen trained, armed by foe Eritrea

* German nationals among those killed - diplomat says

* Afar known as a haunt for rebels, bandits (Adds Ethiopian government spokesman, details, background)

By Aaron Maasho

ADDIS ABABA, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Gunmen have killed five foreign tourists in Ethiopia's remote northern Afar region, after crossing into the Horn of Africa country from neighbouring Eritrea which trained and armed the attackers, an Ethiopian official said on Tuesday.

A Western diplomat told Reuters German nationals were among those killed in the shooting which happened late on Monday. He did not confirm the total number of dead.

Afar is known to be a haunt of Ethiopian rebels who regularly cross over the border with Eritrea, Ethiopia's bitter foe, Addis Ababa says. Eritrean rebels and bandits are also in the area at times.

"The group of foreign tourists was attacked by gunmen late on Monday, by members of a group that was trained and armed by the Eritrean government. It's the usual terrorist activity by the regime," Bereket Simon, Ethiopia's government spokesman, told Reuters.

There was no immediate comment from the Eritrean authorities. The Red Sea state often says Ethiopia "fabricates" lies to tarnish its image.   Continued...

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