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Ethiopian police arrested 10 suspected Islamic militants they believe were sent by Eritrea to carry out attacks to upset May 23 general elections, the information minister told AFP Sunday.

Ethiopia and Eritrea frequently accuse each other of being involved in attacks committed on their territories.

“Terrorists belonging to (Somalia’s Islamist militia) Al Shebab and sent by the Eritrean government have been arrested. Their mission was to carry out terrorist acts to damage the peaceful electoral process,” Bereket Simon said.

“Some crossed the border between Somalia and Ethiopia illegally,” he said, adding “10 were arrested, they were armed”.

Ethiopia and Eritrea frequently accuse each other of being involved in attacks committed on their territories. The two countries clashed violently in 1998 and 2000 in a border war that killed 80,000 people.

The Horn of Africa nation votes on May 23 and Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s ruling party has come under fire over its restriction of opposition and media freedoms as well as soaring inflation and unemployment figures.

The election will be the first since some 200 people died in post-election violence in 2005, sparked by accusations that the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front had rigged the ballot.