Ethiopia Successful in Preventing Al-Shabab’s Attacks

A general view shows part of the capital Addis Ababa at night, Ethiopia, May 17, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)

VOA News

By Marthe van der Wolf

September 18, 2015

ADDIS ABABA — Over the past five years, Kenya, Uganda, Djibouti and the self-declared republic of Somaliland have all been attacked by Somalia-based Al-Shabab militants.

Ethiopia, which invaded Somalia in 2006 to fight Al-Shabab, has since evaded a large-scale attack.

According to Tewolde Mulugeta of Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the country’s secret to preventing attacks is public involvement.

“We know what lack of peace means, so the importance is well understood by our people,” he said. “They don’t want anybody to distract that. Whenever they are going to come across any anti-peace element, any anti-peace force, terrorist force, they are going to expose them, they are going to fight them head on.”

While it isn’t clear how many prospective attacks Ethiopian security forces have prevented, one bomb did exploded inside a central Addis Ababa house in 2013. Police believe the attackers were preparing it for a large football match taking place that day.

Strong security forces

Although Ethiopia’s military is considered among the strongest in the region, independent security expert Sunday Okello says Ethiopian security forces are strong because Al-Shabab is just one of several threats to the country.

“Ethiopia knows its threats to security, and you can’t sleep and kind of forget that there is a threat coming from Eritrea, that there is a threat coming from Somalia, there is a threat coming from maybe South Sudan,” he said. “And from that effect, Ethiopia has managed to build its security network very strongly.”

Ethiopian forces continue to fight al-Shabab in Somalia, working in conjunction with African Union troops. The AU troops have made significant gains but the militant group remains one of the biggest security threats to the East African region.

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