Rebels in the remote Afar region on the Ethiopian-Eritrean border have claimed responsibility for the kidnappings of five Europeans released last week in an interview on Eritrean state media (March 19 2007). Armed men claiming to be from the Afar Revolutionary Democratic Unity Front (ARDUF) made the claim in a broadcast on Eritrean television late on Sunday, including the first pictures of the release of the European hostages. "The main reason we took the hostages is because the TPLF (Ethiopia) claims that ARDUF has been wiped out, and we needed to expose the regime's false propaganda and declare our existence," an unnamed ARDUF spokesperson said in Afar language. "ARDUF is still fighting and will go on fighting." The 20-minute interview included the first footage of the five European hostages being released last Tuesday in Eritrea. It showed the three men and two women shaking hands with and waving to a group of around a dozen armed men in desert military fatigues before being led away by Afar elders. The five were then shown boarding an Eritrean military helicopter, holding small rucksacks. The report made no mention of eight Ethiopian hostages captured in the northeast Ethiopian desert with the British embassy-linked group on March 1 and still missing. Eritrea has already said that the group was kidnapped by separatist rebel group ARDUF, which opposes the division of the Afar people among Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti. Eritrea has strongly rejected Ethiopian...