September 21, 2019 / 7:38 PM / a month ago

Ethiopia says detains suspected Islamist militants planning attacks

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Ethiopia said on Saturday it had arrested an unspecified number of Islamist militant members of the Somali group al Shabaab and Islamic State who were planning to carry out attacks in the country on various targets including hotels.

Some of those arrested were carrying out intelligence work including photographing potential targets, the National Intelligence Security Services (NISS) said in a statement read out on state-affiliated broadcaster Fana.

“The group was ... preparing to attack hotels, religious festivities gathering places and public areas in Addis Ababa,” NISS said.

Ethiopian intelligence coordinated with neighbouring Djibouti to detain the suspects including their leader, Muhammed Abdulahi, NISS said.

Those detained, NISS said, were arrested in the capital Addis Ababa, Oromia and Ethiopia’s Somali region.

Al Shabaab has been fighting for years to topple Somalia’s central government, which the African Union-mandated peacekeeping force AMISOM helps to defend.

The militants have carried out numerous attacks in Somalia on military and civilian targets, and it has also conducted attacks abroad including in Kenya.

Writing by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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