By Tesfs-Alem Tekle
March 3, 2017 (ADDIS ABABA) - Ethiopia and Eritrea this week traded accusations over an alleged foiled attack on Ethiopia’s multi-billion dollar power plant project, Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, under construction in Nile river, some 25 kilometres away from the Sudanese
Addis Ababa on Thursday said its security forces thwarted an attack attempt by 20 members of an Ethiopian armed opposition group, Benishanguel Peoples Liberation Movement.
Ethiopian officials said 13 members of the group were gunned down by security forces while they were approaching to launch attacks at the heavily guarded dam site while the remaining 7 who tried to escape to Sudan were arrested by Sudanese security forces and were handed over to Ethiopian authorities.
Ethiopia said the armed men travelled from Eritrea on a mission to attack the dam and thereby disrupt the construction process underway by over 8,000 workers 24 hours every day.
Zadig Abraha, state minister for government communication affairs said the armed group was sponsored by long-time rival Eritrea, an allegation the latter immediately dismissed.
A senior Eritrean official has rejected the allegations by Ethiopia saying his country has no knowledge of the alleged plot to attack the massive dam project being funded by the people and government of Ethiopia.
Eritrea information Minister, Yemane Gebremeskel in a tweeted message denying his country’s involvement in over the alleged attack attempt.
"This whole accusation is preposterous and peddled for some sinister reason," Yemane told Bloomberg news agency.
The minister further went on to saying that he has "never heard of this group"
Ethiopia and Eritrea were engaged in a two-year long war between 1998-2,000 over border dispute routinely trade accusations of harbouring and supporting one the other’s rebel groups.
In 2013 the self-styled Benishangul People’s Liberation Movement laid its armed decided to function in accordance with the constitution of land.
However, it is not clear if this armed group under the same banner is the original one or a splinter group.
The group originated from Benishangul Gumez region where Ethiopia is building the 4.2 billion dollar hydropower plant project.
The power plant with a capacity of generating 6,450 MW of electricity is slated for completion in 2018.
Currently, 56% of its construction is completed.