Ethiopia arrests 3 Egyptians near S. Sudan border

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Ethiopian security forces have arrested three Egyptians in Ethiopia's westernmost Gambela region near the border with South Sudan, a senior security source said.

Ethiopian security forces have arrested three Egyptians in Ethiopia's westernmost Gambela region near the border with South Sudan, a senior security source said.

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopian security forces have arrested three Egyptians in Ethiopia's westernmost Gambela region near the border with South Sudan, a senior security source said.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said two were arrested while trying to board a public bus bound for Assosa in the Benishangul-Gumuz Region, where Ethiopia is building the multibillion-dollar Renaissance hydroelectric dam on the Nile River.

The third, he added, was seized by Ethiopian citizens while taking pictures of a new dam being constructed on the Baro River, a tributary of the Nile River.

According to the security source, the three Egyptians are currently in police custody in Gambella where they are being interrogated.

He said they had been arrested earlier this week, declining to give their names for security reasons.

The trio was found to have entered Ethiopian territory illegally without registering at any of the four border crossings between Ethiopia and South Sudan, the source said.

They are expected to face charges of illegally entry, holding forged visas and threatening the country's vital facilities, the source said.

The arrest comes amid heightened tension between Egypt and Ethiopia over the Renaissance dam.

The project has raised alarm bells in Egypt, the Arab world's most populous country, which fears a reduction of its historical share of Nile water.

Water distribution among Nile basin states has long been regulated by a colonial-era treaty giving Egypt and Sudan the lion's share of river water.

However, citing its need for development, Ethiopia says it must build a series of dams to generate electricity, both for local consumption and export.

Addis Ababa insists the new dam will benefit downstream states Sudan and Egypt, both of which will be invited to purchase the electricity thus generated.

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