Tuesday, September 24, 2013
An official from Ethiopia's biggest opposition group, Medrek, said on
Saturday that Ethiopia could face a similar attack to this weekend's
assault on a shopping mall in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi that has
killed at least 68 people and injured hundreds others.
Ethiopia and Kenya both have deployed their armies to neighboring
Somalia to address what they said was a threat to regional security
caused by the al-Qaeda-linked Somali Al-Shabaab movement, the group
which has claimed responsibility for the attack.
This weekend's attack is the worst since 2010 when suicide bombers in
the Ugandan capital, Kampala killed over 70 people watching the final
match of the FIFA World Cup.
At the time, al-Shabaab said the twin attack was in response to
Uganda's involvement in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM)
that is fighting the Islamist militants.
The assault on the popular Nairobi shopping centre began on Saturday
lunchtime when between 10 and 15 attackers stormed the mall. Witnesses
who escaped said that the attackers let people they identified as
Muslims leave the building, while an unknown number have been kept
hostage or are in hiding.
"Unless Ethiopia pulls out its troops from Somalia it could have
severe consequences" an opposition official, who asked anonymity, told
"Ethiopia could come across large-scale retaliation attacks from al-Shabaab similar to what was carried out in Nairobi".
"The more time Ethiopia government keeps its forces in Somalia the
more risks of terrorist attack it poses against its own people", he
said, adding that the attack in Nairobi was a wakeup call.
The opposition official said his political organization will soon release an official a statement with regard to the situation.
Al-Shabaab said the attack was in retaliation to crimes committed by
Kenyan forces that entered Somalia in 2011. The group has repeatedly
threatened to carry out attacks in Kenya.
"The attack at Westgate Mall is just a very tiny fraction of what
Muslims in Somalia experience at the hands of Kenyan invaders"
Al-Shabaab said on its Twitter feed.
It added: "For long we have waged war against the Kenyans in our
land, now it's time to shift the battleground and take the war to their
Ethiopia first sent its troops to Somalia in 2006 and redeployed in
2011 after it withdrew in 2009 to back the weak Somalia interim
government, which is trying to prevent Al Shabaab which sought to
establish Islamic rule.
Al-Shabaab has also been threatening to attack Ethiopia. So far not attacks have materialized.
Despite the threats, Addis Ababa pledged this week that it will
remain in the war-ravaged horn of Africa nation until durable peace and
security is maintained.
Ethiopia has around 8,000 troops in Somalia.