FRI FEB 11 2000 03:02 P.M. G.M.T.
Ethiopia blames Eritrean-backed 'terrorists' for MSF attack
ADDIS ABABA, Feb 11 (AFP) - Ethiopia's government
on Friday blamed "terrorists" backed by neighbouring Eritrea
for killing an aid worker and wounding two others in
an attack on a Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) car.
The Ethiopian car driver was killed while a French logistics
worker for MSF (Doctors without Borders) was badly
wounded and a third person was hurt when 10 gunmen
shot up their vehicle in eastern Ethiopia on Monday.
"In the most recent terrorist attack by puppets of the
Eritrean government, an MSF vehicle was attacked
by well-trained and heavily armed men," the Addis
Ababa government said in a statement sent to AFP.
"Terrorists" is the term Ethiopia generally applies,
without naming them, to the rebel Oromo Liberation
Front (OLF) and the Muslim group Al-Ittihad al-Islam,
active in recent years in the Ogaden region where
the attack took place.
The two Horn of Africa countries went to war over
disputed border territory in May 1998.
MSF-Ethiopia said that the French aid worker, who
had been taken to hospital in the Kenyan capital Nairobi
on Wednesday after being shot twice in the attack, was
flown overnight Thursday to Paris, since his condition
was considered "stable".
A representative of the organisation in Addis Ababa
told AFP that MSF did not know who had attacked
the vehicle and had not received any claims of
Early this week, MSF stated that the Frenchman, who
has been with the medical charity since January 1996
and worked in several countries in Europe and
Africa, had been the target of the attackers.
The gunmen riddled the car with 20 bullets near
Degah Bur in the Ogaden region, some 800
kilometres (500 miles) southeast of Addis
Ababa, according to MSF.
They shot the Frenchman in the chest, dragged
him from the vehicle and fired at him again, then
left him for dead, the charity said.
Following the attack, MSF announced it was
suspending all medical, social, rehabilitation and
water supply programmes in Degah Bur. Four
expatriate members of the organisation have
been evacuated to Addis Ababa.
The only programme to be maintained by
MSF in the region is an anti-tuberculosis
programme in the town of Jijiga.
MSF has been working in Ethiopia since 1985.
Relations between Ethiopia and and its onetime
Red Sea province of Eritrea, which obtained
internationally recognised independence from
Addis Ababa in 1993, are tense, though each
side has agreed in principle to an Organisation
of African Unity peace plan.
Copyright (c) 2000, AFP