Home | News    Wednesday 15 July 2009

Ethiopia expels US, UK tourists home

July 14, 2009 (ADDIS ABABA) — Ethiopian authorities expelled at least 13 American and British nationals who had entered the horn of Africa’s nation on a tourist visa.

The tourists were expelled after local authorities caught them traveling in troubled eastern part of Ethiopia where the tourists were not allowed by government body to travel to, reliable sources indicated.

"They had a tourist visa but unlike other arrivals they were travelling to non-tourist sites on their own" reached by phone a government official on a condition of anonymity told Sudan tribune from Addis Ababa.

"No foreign visitor is allowed to travel as its wishes without the knowledge of government," he said, adding "Such an attempt is off a tourist duty, irresponsible and could be dangerous."

"Ethiopia can’t guarantee the safety of such travelers, but expel them back," he concluded.

The official didn’t say if they were involved in local politics or if they are of Somali origin.

There is no a clear confirmation at this point on the specific area they travelled to, why and their numbers on separate citizen.

But there are some unconfirmed sources that the foreign tourists were caught up on travel to the volatile Ogaden region where government and ONLF rebels frequently battle.

A US diplomat in Addis Ababa, Kevin Oconer confirmed the incident but decline to give any further details.

The diplomat said that it is the US state department responsible for comments not Addis Embassy.

The Ogaden National liberation Front (ONLF) who seeks autonomy for the ethnically eastern Somali Ogaden region claimed in a statement released last week killing 80 Ethiopian soldiers. But Ethiopian communications Minister,Bereket Simon played it down saying the reverse is rather true.

Ethiopian forces launched an assault against the rebels after fighters of the On April, 2007 attack a Chinese-run oil field in Abole, Somali region, killing approximately 65 Ethiopians and 9 Chinese nationals.

(ST)