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Attackers kill five foreign tourists in Ethiopia


Unknown attackers killed five foreign tourists in Ethiopia's northeastern Afar region, state television reported Tuesday.

The foreigners, whose nationalities were not immediately known, were killed on Monday in the remote region bordering Eritrea, Ethiopian Television said, citing the defence ministry.

The report added that some of the foreigners were wounded and taken to hospital by government forces in the region, but it did not say how many.

A German foreign ministry official who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity said they were probing reports that German nationals could have been victims of the attack.

"Reports of an attack on tourist group with German citizens in Ethiopia are being followed up. The German foreign ministry and the German embassy are working with determination to clarify the matter and the fate of the

German citizens," the officials said on phone from Berlin.

The tourists were in a group, and according to other sources, some were missing.

The Afar region, an inhospitable scrubland and desert with shallow salty lakes and chains of volcanoes, is reputed to be one of the hottest places on earth. It also known for hominid fossil finds.

A French tourist disappeared in the region in 2004 leaving behind no trace apart from a rucksack.

In 2007, a group of European nationals were kidnapped in the region, but later released by the rebel group that captured them.

Ethiopia, which often accuses its arch-foe Eritrea of backing rebels fighting the Addis Ababa regime, accused Eritrea of supporting the group behind the 2007 kidnapping.

Ethiopia and Eritrea fought a bitter territorial war between 1998 and 2000 and are still deeply at odds over their border.