Ethiopia’s National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) says it has arrested 14 Al-Shabaab and ISIS terrorist members who were on a mission to carry out attacks on various areas in the country.
The state-owned Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) quoted NISS as saying that Al-Shabaab and ISIS sent their members to the capital, Addis Ababa, and various parts of the country “to carry out terrorist acts that damage human life and property as well as tarnish the image of the country”.
It said communication equipment and other materials prepared to be used for the destructive missions were also seized.
ENA said members of the terrorist group had been recruiting people, plotting terrorist attacks and identifying targets for their attacks.
“One of the Al-Shabaab terrorists, Abdul Abdi Jamal, nicknamed Abdulqadir, entered the country to carry out crime in coordination with Al-Shabaab by establishing direct links with the Al-Shabaab leader, Jafar or Gure, in Somalia,” it said.
ENA added that the coordinator of the ISIS terrorist cell in Ethiopia, Aman Assefa Gedimwork, was arrested by the NISS on suspicion of plotting to carry out terrorist attacks.
NISS said the terrorist groups plotted to attack various parts of the country, seizing the window of opportunity opened by the conflict in Tigray Region, where the federal government has been carrying out a military operation.
In the fighting, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has admitted firing rockets at two cities in a neighbouring state.
ENA quoted the Ethiopia State of Emergency task force as saying that late Friday, rockets were fired towards the cities of Bahir Dar and Gondar in the Amhara Region.
As a result, it said the airport areas were damaged.
Regional and political tensions have risen since 2018 when newly-elected Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, merged several ethnically-based regional parties into a single national force, amid an ambitious reform programme.
Violence erupted at the start of the month in Tigray involving federal and local forces, following the reported takeover of an army base in the Tigrayan capital, Mekelle, which prompted the prime minister to order a military offensive.
Prior to the Tigray escalation, dozens of people in western Oromia region were killed and injured in attacks.
The Ethiopian Federal Government has also declared a six-month state of emergency in the Tigray Region, whose government is controlled by TPLF.