June 17, 2011 / 5:23 AM / in 8 years

Eritrea slams Ethiopia for AU summit plot allegations

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Eritrea has rejected Ethiopian claims it trained the rebels who plotted to carry out bombings during an African Union summit in Addis Ababa in February.

An Ethiopian court earlier in June sentenced four suspects to life in prison, six to 25 years, one to 14 and three to nine years in jail, describing them as Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) rebels who planned to strike a hotel where several heads of state were staying, as well as an open market in the capital.

Addis Ababa says its arch foe trained the rebels and that the explosives they intended to use had been smuggled through the Red Sea state.

“Pointing a finger to the people and government of Eritrea has no legal basis whatsoever,” said a foreign ministry statement seen by Reuters on Thursday.

“Uttering nonsensical remarks such as ‘we have evidence’, ‘intelligence data is in our possession,’ ‘we have the testimony of detained individuals’ cannot embellish the authors of lies.”

Ethiopia routinely accuses Asmara of supporting rebel groups, and declared in April it would support Eritrean guerrillas fighting to overthrow President Isaias Afewerki.

Both sides have often traded tough rhetoric since their 1998-2000 border war, which killed around 80,000 people and left the frontier demarcation unresolved.

Asmara also blasted the United States, which it accuses of siding with Ethiopia, Washington’s main Horn of Africa ally.

“The misguided policies and actions of the U.S. administration also aggravated this state of affairs, besides being the cause of instability, crises and suffering in the Horn of Africa,” it said.

Eritrea was part of Ethiopia until 1991, the culmination of a 30-year secession war by rebels under Isaias.

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