01/17/2012 01:49 pm ET Updated Mar 18, 2012

Ethiopia: Tourists Killed In Remote Afar Region

By Aaron Maasho

ADDIS ABABA, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Gunmen have killed five foreign tourists in Ethiopia's remote northern Afar region, after crossing into the Horn of Africa country from neighbouring Eritrea, state television said on Tuesday.

A Western diplomat told Reuters German nationals were among those killed in the attack which happened late on Monday. He did not confirm the total number of dead.

Afar is known to be a haunt of Ethiopian rebels who regularly cross over the border with Eritrea, Ethiopia's bitter foe, Addis Ababa says. Eritrean rebels and bandits are also in the area at times.

"Five foreign tourists were killed yesterday evening and two seriously injured when armed men attacked the group in Afar region. One tourist has escaped unharmed," Ethiopian state television said, citing security officials.

"The gunmen crossed the border from Eritrea," it said.

Five Europeans were kidnapped in 2007 in the barren, searingly hot corner of the Horn of Africa country where rock-strewn hills rise above vast deserts below sea-level.

(Writing by Richard Lough)