Addis Ababa – Ethiopia has warned of an increased threat from Somalia’s al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab, saying the country should expect more attacks, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday.
The announcement comes after two Somali nationals were killed last month when a bomb they were making exploded in Addis Ababa. Officials said they planned to target crowds gathered for a World Cup qualifying match.
“More activities of this nature are expected to happen in Ethiopia, and therefore the need for raising security levels is very, very important,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Dina Mufti told reporters.
Ethiopian troops entered Somalia in November 2011 to support African Union and Somali forces to fight al-Shabaab extremists.
The Islamists have vowed to exact revenge on countries with soldiers in Somalia. In Kenya, which also invaded Somalia in 2011, al-Shabaab gunmen massacred at least 67 people in their September attack on Nairobi’s Westgate mall.
Security in the Ethiopian capital has been visibly boosted in recent weeks, with armed police stationed outside international hotels and official venues, including the African Union.
Ethiopia shares a long, porous border with war-torn Somalia.
“It is very easy to infiltrate into our territory,” he said, saying the threat was “more from external terrorist elements than the internal home-grown ones.”
There are over 215 000 Somali refugees in Ethiopia, mostly living in camps near the Somali border, according to the United Nations refugee agency.
Ethiopia, whose troops in Somalia are based mainly in southern border zones, is considering joining the much larger AU force.