European tourists killed in terrorist attack in Ethiopia
Two Germans, two Hungarians and an Austrian among those shot to death
Five European tourists were shot and killed in a terrorist attack in northern Ethiopia. Two people were wounded and two others were kidnapped in the attack.
An unidentified member of the tourist group that was attacked walks with his head covered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Jan. 18, 2012.
Austrian, Belgian, German, Hungarian and Italian nationals were among those in the tourist group, Ethiopian Communications Minister Bereket Simon said.
Two Germans, two Hungarians and an Austrian were among the five killed, according to an Interpol report. Two Belgians were seriously hurt and two Italians escaped unharmed, the report said. Two Germans were kidnapped.
Austria's foreign ministry confirmed that an Austrian man was among the five dead. Germany's foreign minister also confirmed two German deaths.
Those wounded in the attack arrived in Addis Ababa that night, where they were met by embassy personnel. A British diplomat at the airport said it was possible one British tourist was among the group attacked.
One victim had to be moved in a wheelchair, while others covered their faces to avoid being photographed by journalists. A diplomat said that the victims did not want to make any statements to the media and said that they have had "a very hard time."
Ethiopia offered its condolences to the families of victims and said it would "do everything possible to try and get those taken prisoner released as soon as possible . It is already clear that the attack was carried out with the direct involvement of the Eritrean Government. There is a fear that the people who have been kidnapped might be taken across the border into Eritrea," an official statement from the Ethiopian government read.
Ethiopia said it suspects the attack was linked to an upcoming African Union summit in Addis Ababa later this month. The government says that the attack shows that the international community "must now get serious about the destabilizing role of the Eritrean regime in the region."
The tourists were visiting a volcanic region in Ethiopia's northern Afar region. The tourists appeared to be traveling with Addis Ababa-based Green Land Tours and Travel.
Green Land Tours and Travel offers a 15-day travel package to the Afar region, which include visits to watch salt extraction from salt lakes and a trek around a volcano that spouts lava pools.
Bereket said that "some groups trained and armed by the Eritrean government" attacked the tourists about 12 to 15 miles from the Eritrean border.
Girma Asmerom, Eritrea's ambassador to the African Union says that Ethiopia's allegations are an "absolute lie" and that the attack is an internal Ethiopian matter.
Ethiopia and Eritrea fought a border war from 1998 to 2000, claiming the lives of about 80,000 people. Tension between the neighboring East African countries rose last year when a U.N. report claimed that Eritrea was behind a plot to attack an African Union summit in Ethiopia.
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
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Keywords: Ethiopia, Eritrea, terrorist attack, European tourists
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