Ethiopia's ethnic Afar rebels -- ARDUF
ter-attack-ethiopia_202536.html> Kidnapped Germans in Eritrea after attack:
Ethiopia's Afar rebels -- who captured German tourists last week -- are a
small organisation which claims to have been fighting marginalisation by
Addis Ababa for three decades.
In a statement seen by AFP Monday, Afar Revolutionary Democratic Unity Front
(ARDUF) blamed the Ethiopian government for an incident during which five
other Europeans trekking on the slopes of the Erta Ale volcano were also
Addis Ababa had swiftly blamed the violence on gunmen trained by Eritrea but
ARDUF said the loss of life was the result of an attack by Ethiopian
soldiers on one of its patrols.
The group numbers very few fighters but claims to represent the aspirations
of the ethnic Afar, a community that straddles the volatile and remote
regions between Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti.
"They have 200 men at most. But the general feeling of the Afar people ...
is very hostile towards the government," a Horn of Africa expert told AFP,
asking not to be named.
The group describes itself as an "Ethiopian Afar organisation", which has
been "fighting to liberate our people from political marginalisation,
economic deprivation, social exclusion, illiteracy and poverty for the last
It first drew international attention in 2007 when it kidnapped a group of
five Europeans linked to the British embassy. The five were released
unharmed a few days later.
The Horn of Africa expert said ARDUF's members today feel "betrayed" because
they voted for Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in the disputed 2005 elections,
but have obtained nothing in exchange.
"The Afar populations have been particularly marginalised," the Organisation
for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said in a 2010 report.
"Their demands call for a fairer distribution of resources and
administrative posts in the Djiboutian and Ethiopian States, as well as the
reunification of Afar lands on the Red Sea with those in the Ethiopian Afar
heartland," the report said.
"ARDUF's dream would be an autonomous entity grouping together the Afar,
including those from Djibouti, and attached to Eritrea. They detest the
Eritreans even more than the Ethiopians, but have chosen to join forces with
them against Meles," he said.
Ethiopia says ARDUF are a proxy force for their arch-rivals in Eritrea, but
ARDUF and Asmara have both dismissed the accusations as lies.
Between Eritrea and Ethiopia, he said, the Afar are "stuck between the devil
and the deep blue sea. Their links to Eritrea are proven and their rear
bases are on the Eritrean side of the border," he told AFP.
The area occupied by the Afar is among the most hostile on earth. It is also
home to two spectacular volcanoes: Erta Ale, where the shooting and
kidnappings took place, and Dallol.
Also known as the Danakil depression, the area came to prominence through
the writings of the explorer Wilfred Thesiger who wrote about two trips in
the region in the 1930s in "Danakil Diary."
C 2011 AFP
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Received on Tue Jan 24 2012 - 07:28:29 EST