Ethiopia's ONLF rebels say U.N. staff handed over

Tue Jun 28, 2011 4:54pm GMT

* Workers were in ONLF hands since May

* Workers transferred near Somali border

By Aaron Maasho

ADDIS ABABA, June 28 (Reuters) - Two staff of the U.N. food agency who went missing in Ethiopia last month have been handed back, according to a rebel group that says it rescued them but is accused by the government of ambushing them in the first place.

Government authorities and the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) each blamed the other for a May 13 attack in which the U.N. World Food Programme said one of its staff was killed, one injured and the pair of Ethiopian nationals went missing.

The ONLF said last month that it had "rescued" the two from jail after it captured a town in the arid region from government troops. The government dismissed the claim.

"The Ogaden National Liberation Front has transferred the two WFP staff members to WFP representatives near the border of Somalia on June 27 2011," the group said in a statement on Tuesday.

The group did not specify the exact location of the release, saying in another line that the handover took place outside Ethiopia.   Continued...

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