By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
December 25, 2013 (ADDIS ABABA) – Ethiopian security officials on Wednesday said that Al Shabaab, a Somali terrorist group allied to Al-Qaeda, was behind a failed bomb attack in Addis Ababa in October.
The National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) and the Federal Police said they have arrested five suspects who they says are members of the Al-Qaida’s East African wing.
Police told Sudan Tribune that the suicide bombers planned to bomb Addis Ababa stadium when over 20,000 spectators were watching a qualifier for the football World Cup between Ethiopia and Nigeria.
A few hours before kickoff, two suicide bombers died after the bomb they were preparing for the attack accidentally exploded at their residence near Bole International Airport.
Police say they arrested three other suspects but five suspected bombers who entered the stadium remain manage to escape after aborting their mission.
The suspects, who appeared on state television confessed that they were trained and sent by Islamist militant group Al-Shabab to detonate multiple bombs at Addis Ababa Stadium where government officials were in attendance.
They said there was also a plan to carryout another suicide bombing targeting the tens of thousands of people who gathered in the Jigjiga town of Ethiopia’s eastern Somali region to mark the 8th Ethiopian Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Day which was celebrated two weeks ago.
Top government officials including Prime Minister HaileMariam Desalegn were in attendance of the national occasion.
"The failed terrorist attempt at Addis Ababa Stadium was one among the number of similar attempts foiled due [to] joint coordinated efforts of the people and government of Ethiopia" NISS said in a statement.
October’s terrorist attempt in Addis Ababa follows al-Shabaab’s attack at Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, which killed at least 65 people.
Following October’s terror attempt, security has been tightened across the capital, Addis Ababa, as well as at main gateways and areas where public events take place.
Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for a number of thwarted attacks in Ethiopia and has vowed to carryout attacks in retaliation to Addis Ababa’s military intervention into neighbouring Somalia.
Ethiopia has repeatedly accused its rival Eritrea of backing Al-Shabaab and other rebel groups to destabilise the nation, an allegation Asmara denies.