Eritrea says it killed 10 Ethiopian troops

* Ethiopian government dismisses the claims

* Says captured two more and equipment

ZALAM BESA, Ethiopia, Jan 3 (Reuters) – Eritrea’s government has said its troops killed 10 Ethiopian soldiers after they attacked Eritrean positions on New Year’s day, something Addis Ababa has denied.

A statement dated Jan. 2 on the www.shabait.com website, run by the Eritrean ministry of information, said: “In the early morning hours of January 1st 2010, TPLF soldiers launched successive attacks in the Zalam besa front and were swiftly driven back with 10 of their soldiers killed and two captured.”

TPLF is a partner in Ethiopia’s ruling coalition.

Bereket Simon, the Ethiopian government’s head of information, accused the Eritrean government of trying to cover up an attack by Eritrean rebels in which 25 Eritrean government soldiers were killed. [ID:nLDE60006P]

“This new allegation that it killed Ethiopian soldiers is an attempt by the regime in Asmara to deflect its internal crisis by implicating Ethiopia,” he told Reuters.

The two Horn of Africa neighbours have had long running hostilities and tensions simmer along their common border due to a dispute over the lines of the border.

The U.N. security council voted to slap sanctions against Eritrea last week on accusations of supporting and arming Somalia’s hardline Islamist insurgents. [ID:nN23147693] (Reporting by Tesfa-alem Tekle and Tsegaye Tadess; Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton)