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Eritrean Rebel Leader Assassinated

September 4, 1989

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) _ Assassins killed a military leader of an Ethiopian rebel army at his home in the Sudanese town of Kassala on the border with Ethiopia, a source reported Monday.

That report was confirmed by Idriss Mohammed, a leader of the Eritrean Liberation Front. He gave no details in an interview with the Qatar News Agency but blamed a rival Eritrean rebel group.

The source, speaking on the condition he not be identified, said Mohamed Hassab Mohamed, chief of state of the Eritrean Liberation Army, was sitting in front of his house in Kassala when three gunmen in a passing car opened fire Sunday, killing him instantly.

The Eritrean Liberation Army is the military wing of the Eritrean Liberation Front that has been fighting for more than 20 years for autonomy for the northern Ethiopian province of Eritrea.

Although the Eritrean Liberation Front is the oldest rebel organization it is considered weaker than another faction, the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front.

Idriss Mohammed told the Qatar agency that gunmen of the Eritrean Popular Front killed Mohamed. It was believed he referred to the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front.

The source said no group claimed responsibility for the killing but Ethiopian police have arrested one suspect. Police declined comment.

Representatives of the Ethiopian government and the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front are scheduled to open peace talks this week in Atlanta, under the sponsorship of former President Jimmy Carter. The meetings are to be held at the Carter Center, a research institution.

The source said police posted guards around offices of various Ertrean organizations in Kassala, 300 miles east of Khartoum.

Sudan, which has long had a territorial dispute with Ethiopia, has harbored Eritrean rebels. There are nearly 1 million Ethiopian refugees in Sudan who fled their homeland because of famine and the fighting.

The Eritrean Liberation Front and several other rebel factions met early this year with Ethiopian representatives in Khartoum but no agreement was reached on further negotiations. The Eritrean People’s Liberation Front boycotted those talks, rejecting the Ethiopian porposals for limited autonomy.

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