ADDIS ABABA – An Ethiopian intelligence agency says more than a dozen suspected members of the Islamic State and Al Shabab extremist groups have been detained in the East African country.
The arrests were made in collaboration with foreign security agencies mainly Djibouti, Somaliland, Puntland, US, Italy, France and Somali land.
In a statement read on the national broadcaster on Saturday, National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) says more than ten extremists have been detained either operating in Ethiopia or trying to enter into the country from neighboring countries.
The extremists were plotting to carry out attacks in various part of the country including the capital Addis Ababa, according to the statement.
NISS says a member of Al Shabab, named Mohamed Abudlahi Dullet, has been captured in Addis Ababa while preparing to carry out attack on public gathering places and religious institutions.
He was making the preparation to conduct the attack in collaboration with the other two members of the terrorist group as well as one other facilitator who were in neighboring Djibouti.
The trio – named as Abdik Mohamed Hussien, Redwan Mohamed Hussien and another one with a nickname Semeter Mohamed Eman Yousuf – have been arrested in collaboration with Djibouti intelligence service, it said.
The statement also says two other members of the group – Yeshak Ali Adem and Aden Muhamud Mohamed – were also captured.
NISS described both as key members of Al Shabab and experts in a suicide bomb and were arrested while trying to get into the country via Somaliland to carry out attacks in Ethiopia.
The statement also says three other suspected Al Shabab members – Eid Mohamed Ali, Beshir Usman Abidi and Usman Ali Hussien – were also captured in Somali and Oromia regional states after entering into the country with a similar mission.
Meanwhile, the security agency three members of Islamic State who were planning to carry out attacks in the country on various targets including hotels have been arrested.
IS suspect, named Fuad Abshir Yusuf, has been captured in the Bole Area of Addis Ababa while preparing to carry out an attack in the capital.
Two other Islamist militant members, named Muhamed Guhad Budil and Seid Umer Shibeshi, have also been captured in Afdera and Awash areas, according to NISS.
Last week, General Berhanu Jula, deputy chief of staff and director of military operations in the Ethiopian armed forces, confirmed the arrests without specifying their numbers.
Some of those arrested were carrying out intelligence work including photographing potential targets, according to Ethiopia’s Intelligence agency.
“We are watching what they are doing, where they’re moving, whom they’re meeting with and what connections they have,” General Berhanu said in an interview with state-funded Amharic newspaper Addis Zemen.
Berhanu played down the threat of IS gaining ground in Ethiopia, saying the group doesn’t have support there and any statement implying they are gaining strength is “psychological warfare.”
Still, he said, security forces will stay vigilant. “We won’t sleep, day and night, because of the heavy responsibility that we have to protect our country and our people from any danger,” he said.
Last month, IS militants in Somalia said they had plans to release extremist recruitment material in Amharic, one of Ethiopia’s primary languages, the voice of America reported.