An Ethiopian court acquitted two Swedish journalists of terrorism charges Thursday but said allegations they had assisted the secessionist ONLF rebel group still stood, and kept them in detention.

Reporter Martin Schibbye and photographer Johan Persson were arrested in July after they entered Ogaden province from Somalia's semi-autonomous Puntland region with a team of fighters from the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF).

Though the prosecutors have provided witnesses and evidence to support their accusation, the court does not believe it is substantial enough to prove that the journalists were involved in carrying out a terror attack, judge Shemsu Sirgaga ruled.

Shemsu, however, ordered the pair to defend themselves against allegations they had helped the ONLF and had entered the country illegally without a permit.

(Reporting by Aaaron Maasho; Editing by Yara Bayoumy and Andrew Roche)