Eritrea Denies Knowledge of Group Linked to Ethiopian Dam Plot

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The 6,000-megawatt Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, shown here in May 2016, is scheduled to begin producing electricity in 2017. It and several other large dams in Ethiopia could turn the country into Africa’s hydropower hub.
Eritrea’s government denied any knowledge of a rebel group that an Ethiopian broadcaster said had plotted to attack the country’s flagship hydropower plant.
Ethiopian security forces killed 13 members of the Benishangul Gumuz People’s Liberation Movement who had traveled from Eritrea to attack the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, or GERD, Fana Broadcasting Corp., which is controlled by Ethiopia’s ruling party, reported on Wednesday. Seven other members of the group fled to neighboring Sudan, whose authorities handed them over to the Ethiopian government, it said.
“This whole accusation is preposterous and peddled for some sinister reason,” Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel said in a message sent via Twitter. He said he has “never heard of this group.”
The 6,000-megawatt GERD, scheduled for completion next year, is set to be Africa’s biggest hydropower plant, according to a June report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. It’s being built on the Blue Nile River near the border with Sudan at an estimated cost of $6.4 billion and may be used to export power to East African countries, BNEF said.
Eritrea achieved independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after decades of armed struggle. The two countries fought again in 1998-2000 over the disputed territory of Badme on their border in a conflict that left at least 50,000 people dead.
The BPLM is part of the Peoples’ Alliance for Freedom and Democracy, an anti-Ethiopian government coalition, according to a statement issued by the Oslo-based PAFD in October 2015. The alliance, which includes four other rebel groups, didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment. Calls to the telephone number listed in the statement for the BPLM, with an Eritrean dialing code, didn’t connect.

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