Eritrean state television reports that rebels from northern Ethiopia have claimed responsibility for kidnapping five European tourists and eight Ethiopians earlier this month.

In a interview aired late Monday, a purported spokesman for the Afar Revolutionary Democratic Unity Front (ARDUF) says his group took the hostages to dispute Ethiopian claims that rebels had been wiped out.

The Ethiopian government has blamed Eritrea for the kidnappings. Eritrea denies the charge.

The hostages were taken in Ethiopia's remote Afar region on March 1. The five Europeans - all connected to the British Embassy in Addis Ababa - were released last week, while the eight Ethiopians are still being held.

The purported rebel spokesman made no mention of the Ethiopian hostages or their condition.

Monday's broadcast included the first video of the European tourists as they were being released. It showed the three men and two women waving to a group of armed men before being led away.

Ethiopia and Eritrea fought a border war that ended in 2000 and killed some 70,000 people. Relations between the two countries remain strained.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.