ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia has arrested 29 people, including nine opposition party members, for plotting to carry out bomb attacks in the Horn of Africa nation, a senior security official said on Monday.
Demelash Woldemikael, deputy commissioner of federal police, said the individuals had been rounded up since Aug. 27 and all had links with the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), a secessionist group Addis Ababa blacklisted as terrorists last year.
“They were all trained by the OLF and we’ve found plenty of evidence proving that they plotted to bomb targets,” Demelash told Reuters. Seven of the suspects are members of the opposition Oromo People’s Congress party, while two are from the Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement, Demelash said. He said the suspects had appeared in court and been remanded in custody to enable police to carry out further investigations.
Opposition politicians and rights group Human Rights Watch have accused Ethiopia of cracking down on opposition campaigners from the Oromo ethnic group, Ethiopia’s biggest with 27 million people out of a population of 80 million. Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is Washington’s closest ally in the Horn of Africa but has been criticised by rights groups for crushing dissent. Meles says “terrorists” are using political party membership to hide their activities.
The government said it had arrested 121 Oromos in March after accusing them of being OLF members.