The Ethiopian baby adopted by Angelina Jolie was conceived after her mother was raped, the mother told Reuters.

Mentwabe Dawit, mother of 2-year-old Zahara, described how she was attacked one evening in 2004 after a day's work at a construction site in the southern Ethiopian town of Awasa.

"He pulled a dagger, put one hand on my mouth, so that I could not scream. He then raped me and disappeared," Mentwabe told Reuters in an interview, tears streaming down her face.

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The 24-year-old says she soon found she was unable to feed the baby, whom she named Yemsrach.

"My baby was on the verge of death. She became malnourished and was even unable to cry," Mentwabe said. "I was desperate and decided to run away, rather than see my child dying."

Mentwabe's mother eventually put Yemsrach up for adoption, in the belief her own daughter had died.

Mentwabe said her mother did what she thought was best, and denied newspaper reports in the United States and Europe that she wanted Yemsrach, renamed Zahara, back.

"My mother was not misled by anyone, as was alleged by some media outlets. Her motive was to save the child from dying which I fully understand.

"I have never disputed the adoption of my baby by Angelina Jolie. I think my daughter is a very fortunate human being to be adopted by a world famous lady. I wish them both all the success they deserve," she told Reuters.