Ethiopia began arresting former Eritrean soldiers on its territory on Saturday, citing security and the undeclared war between the two former allies.

Ethiopian state radio said: "This action is only being taken for security reasons in that they may be a threat to the national security of the country and is not prompted by any other motive."Ethiopia on Friday asked some officials of Eritrean political and community organizations to leave the country, accusing them of involvement in spying and raising funds for Eritrea's war effort.

Government spokeswoman Selome Tadesse stressed that Eritreans living peacefully in Ethiopia would not be targeted.

But Eritrea blasted Ethiopia for expelling its citizens. An Eritrean foreign ministry statement called on the international community to denounce the action and accused the Addis Ababa government of gross human rights violations.

"Ethiopia's decision to expel Eritreans en masse is the latest and as yet the most irresponsible attempt to turn the conflict between the two countries into discord between two peoples," said a statement on the official news agency Erina.

Four African presidents will visit Ethiopia and Eritrea this week in a new initiative by the Organization of African Unity aimed at resolving the conflict.

The territorial dispute simmered for months before boiling into violence on May 6. Since then hundreds of people have been killed in a ground and air war fought on three fronts along the 625-mile front between the two former allies.