Eritrea Denies Knowledge of Group Linked to Ethiopian Dam Plot
(Araabi News) — Eritrea’s government denied any knowledge of a rebel group that an Ethiopian broadcaster said had plotted to attack the country’s flagship hydropower plant.
Ethiopian security forces killed 13 members of the Benishangul Gumuz People’s Liberation Movement who had traveled from Eritrea to attack the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, or GERD, Fana Broadcasting Corp., which is controlled by Ethiopia’s ruling party, reported on Wednesday. Seven other members of the group fled to neighboring Sudan, whose authorities handed them over to the Ethiopian government, it said.
“This whole accusation is preposterous and peddled for some sinister reason,” Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel said in a message sent via Twitter. He said he has “never heard of this group.”
The 6,000-megawatt GERD, scheduled for completion next year, is set to be Africa’s biggest hydropower plant, according to a June report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. It’s being built on the Blue Nile River near the border with Sudan at an estimated cost of $6.4 billion and may be used to export power to East African countries, BNEF said.
Eritrea achieved independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after decades of armed struggle. The two countries fought again in 1998-2000 over the disputed territory of Badme on their border in a conflict that left at least 50,000 people dead.
The BPLM is part of the Peoples’ Alliance for Freedom and Democracy, an anti-Ethiopian government coalition, according to a statement issued by the Oslo-based PAFD in October 2015. The alliance, which includes four other rebel groups, didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment. Calls to the telephone number listed in the statement for the BPLM, with an Eritrean dialing code, didn’t connect.
Ethiopia says planned attack on giant dam project thwarted
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS , ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia
Ethiopia says it has thwarted a planned attack by an Eritrea-backed group on its massive dam project, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
Deputy government spokesman Zadig Abraha told the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate on Wednesday evening that 20 members of the armed group were “completely annihilated” earlier this week.
Zadig says “actions were taken” against 13 members of the Benishangul Peoples Liberation Movement. The spokesman did not give details, but similar statements have meant people were killed.
The spokesman says the other members escaped to Sudan, which then handed them over.
Ethiopia’s dam project is about halfway complete and has been a source of regional tension. Egypt has long suspected it will reduce its share of the Nile River.
Ethiopia and neighboring Eritrea have a long history of border disputes.