(AFP) VIENNA — A 27-year-old Austrian tourist was killed in northern Ethiopia when his group was attacked during a boating trip on the Nile, Austria’s foreign ministry said Monday.
The attack occurred on Sunday near Bahir Dar, 550 kilometres (340 miles) northwest of the capital Addis Ababa, ministry spokesman Martin Weiss told AFP.
The victim and three companions — part of a larger group of 10 Austrians — had spent the night camping on the banks of the Nile when they were apparently attacked by bandits. The victim’s three companions were unharmed in the incident.
“There were gunshots,” Weiss told AFP.
One of the tourists “was mortally wounded, the three others managed to escape and called the Austrian embassy in Addis Ababa.
“The (local) authorities were later informed and we received information this morning that the three individuals were safe. Shocked but in safety,” he added.
“Technical equipment was stolen, the boats were damaged. It was probably a band of bandits.”
Weiss added the attack did not seem to have been political motivated, saying: “It was just a robbery.”
No arrests have been made, he said.
One of the victims’ companions told the Austria Press Agency (APA) the attack early Sunday was carried out by eight to 10 men, several of them carrying a gun or rifle.
“They made it clear we should disappear from the camp. We didn’t (resist) and indicated they could take everything,” said the 40-year-old, who asked not to be named.
His 27-year-old companion was shot at close range without warning, he said.
The Austrians, who were a well-travelled group, were on the first day of a planned trip down the Nile in two-person inflatable canoes when the attack occurred, the witness said.
“We were in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he told APA.
The three remaining Austrians trekked 13 hours back to the start of their trip after contacting the embassy via satellite phone and were eventually evacuated by helicopter along with their dead companion, said the witness, who praised the rescue operation.
In its latest travel advice on Ethiopia, published in November, the Austrian foreign ministry warned of “a heightened risk of terrorist attacks”.
In January 2012, five foreign tourists, including an Austrian, were killed on the slopes of the Erta Ale volcano in northern Ethiopia. Addis Ababa blamed that attack on groups trained and armed by neighbouring Eritrea, an accusation the Eritrean government denied.