Ethiopia says its troops have killed 15 rebels and detained two Swedish journalists in the country's east.

Government spokesman Shimeles Kamal said Monday the troops killed rebels from the Ogaden National Liberation Front [ONLF] during a clash Thursday in the Somali region. The area, which is also known as Ogaden, borders Somalia.

Kamal said the journalists, Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye, were traveling with the rebels at the time of the clash and have been treated for minor injuries.

Communications Minister Bereket Simon tells VOA's Somali Service that the two journalists had tried to enter Ethiopia from Somalia and were wounded in a shootout.

Ethiopia bans journalists from traveling in the Ogaden region, where the ONLF has been fighting the Ethiopian government since 1984.

The two sides frequently accuse each other of carrying out human rights abuses in the area.

In a statement Sunday, the ONLF condemned the arrest of the journalists and demanded that Ethiopia release them immediately.