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Monday, June 2, 2014

By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
June 1, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) - The US Embassy in Addis Ababa urged American citizens residing or traveling to Ethiopia to exercise caution over a possible attack by a Somali terrorist group.
The safety advisory the embassy said was issued due to threat from Al-Shabaab against Ethiopia and western interests in Ethiopia.
Citing to multiple and ongoing credible threats, the US embassy urged its citizens to take the highest precautions to maintain their personal safety and security.
“The Embassy continues to receive credible threat reports of Al-Shabaab’s intent and capability to attack Ethiopia and western interests in Ethiopia” it said in a statement Sudan Tribunereceived on Sunday.
The embassy said that there have been a number of incursions along the Ethiopian-Somali border in recent weeks urging its citizens to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to enhance personal security.
“While there is no known specific information regarding the timing or location of an attack, we would like to remind U.S. citizens to be especially vigilant in areas where large numbers of US and western citizens congregate, including restaurants, hotels, bars, places of worship, supermarkets, and shopping malls” the statement said.
The embassy highly recommended for Americans living in Ethiopia and those travelling to Ethiopia to enrol in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
“The STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency. If you don’t have Internet access, enrol directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate” it added.
Ethiopia, which is a regional security partner of the United States government, has a deployed forces in war torn Somalia to help the weak government battle the Al-Qaeda-allied Al-Shabaab group.
In the past Al-Shabaab has repeatedly warned to carryout massive attacks in Ethiopia in retaliation for its military intervention and Addis Ababa takes such threats seriously.
However government officials often disclose that the country’s defence force and intelligence are capable enough to thwart Shabaab’s terror plots and to defend the country from any external enemy.
Addis Ababa says it will remain determined to keep its troops in Somalia till order, peace and security is fully restored in Somalia.
However Ethiopian opposition politicians on the contrary call on government for immediate pull-out arguing keeping the troops longer will increase the risk of retaliation attacks against the horn of Africa’s nation.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on Friday called on authorities in Ethiopia to release a journalist being held without charge following a spate of similar arrests in recent weeks.

Addis Ababa: The Ethiopian government has been condemned for detaining a journalist. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)
An Ethiopian court on Tuesday extended by 14 days the pre-trial detention of Elias Gebru, Editor-in-Chief of the independent news magazine Enku who was detained for questioning in connection with a column published in his paper.

"The detention without charge of Elias Gebru is the latest move by the Ethiopian government to tighten the noose on the country's independent press," said Mohamed Keita of the CPJ.

"We call on authorities to release Elias immediately and to stop arresting journalists as a means to quell information and debate," he alleged.

© somartin - za.Fotolia.com
According to the CPJ, Elias' column covered a controversial monument recently erected outside the capital in honour of ethnic Oromos massacred in the 19th century by Emperor Menelik's forces. It cited local journalists as saying authorities were attempting to link the publication to deadly clashes between Oromo student protesters and security forces last month.

Ethiopian authorities said eight protesters were killed in the violence, although rights groups said the figure was far higher.

Last month six members of the blogging collective Zone Nine and three journalists were arrested by police, with the government saying they were being investigated for "serious crimes".

UN human rights chief Navi Pillay has condemned the arrests, warning the country is increasingly muzzling freedom of expression under the guise of fighting terrorism.

Source: AFP, via I-Net Bridge
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