• African nation accuses UN of reporting `flawed' allegations
  • Country doesn't mention other claims of logistical support

Eritrea denied it sent soldiers to fight with a Saudi Arabia-led coalition in Yemen, accusing the United Nations of reporting flawed and “unsubstantiated” allegations against the Horn of Africa country.

The UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea said in an October report it had “credible information” that Eritrean soldiers were embedded with a United Arab Emirates contingent in Yemen. It also said the African nation was allowing the Arab coalition to use its land, airspace and territorial waters, receiving fuel and financial compensation for its support in the campaign against Houthi militants.

Eritrea described the allegation of sending troops as “patently false,” in a statement on a government website. It accused the monitoring group of a “longstanding tendency to dwell on malicious hearsay so as to maintain the harassment of Eritrea.” It didn’t mention the other allegations of support. Neither Saudi Arabia nor the U.A.E. have commented on the UN’s claims.

Eritrea, situated along one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes on the Red Sea, is less than 100 kilometers (62 miles) across the waterway from Yemen at its closest point.

The UN group also said it found “no evidence” of Eritrea assisting Islamist militants al-Shabaab in Somalia, although it found the country was “continuing to support and harbor some regional armed groups” including a newly formed Ethiopian opposition coalition. The global body imposed sanctions on Eritrea in 2009, accusing it of sending 2,000 troops to back the al-Qaeda-linked group that’s been waging an insurgency against Somalia’s administration since 2006.

The government in Asmara welcomed the group’s “acknowledgment of the fact, even if belated, that the principal, purported reason for imposing the unwarranted sanctions against Eritrea is untenable.”

The chair of the UN’s Somalia-Eritrea Sanctions Committee, Rafael Dario Ramirez Carreno, said last week he’d received an invitation from President Isaias Afwerki to visit the country.

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