By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
September 25, 2013 (ADDIS ABABA) – Ethiopia on Wednesday dismissed concerns by some opposition groups that the horn of Africa nation could be Al-Shabaab’s next terror target.
After Al-Shabaab’s four-day attack on a shopping mall in the Kenyan capital,Nairobi, Ethiopian opposition officials told Sudan Tribune that the country could be the group’s next unless Ethiopian troops quits its long-standing military intervention in Somalia.
These concerns, however, have been dismissed by a senior government official in Addis Ababa.
“Al-Shabaab is a peace threat, although the level of threat it poses might vary. However the terrorist group poses no imminent threat to the country’s national security”, Dina Mufti, the spokesperson for the ministry of foreign affairs, told Sudan Tribune.
“Our defense force and intelligence are capable enough to defend their country and there is no reason [for] the public should be worried” he added.
The government official reaffirmed that Ethiopia will continue to keep its troops in Somalia until Al-Shabaab is weakened and a sustainable peace and security is maintained.
Mufti further stressed a need for members of the East African block IGAD - the Intergovernmental Authority on Development - to closely and jointly work to curb such terrorist attacks.
Meanwhile, Ethiopia’s minister of foreign affairs, Tedros Adhanom, extended his deepest condolences to the people and government of Kenya over the killing of civilians.
"Ethiopia, as the current Chair of the African Union, is committed to play a leading role in coordinating other African countries in the fight against terrorism” Adhanom said.
Ethiopia, which is a regional security partner of the United States government, on Tuesday offered to support the Kenyan government in hunting down perpetrators of the attack.
The Kenyan government said today that six of the attackers were killed and nine others were taken to custody.
The Al-Qaeda-allied Al-Shabaab fighters attack at Shopping mall in Nairobi has left at least 61 civilians killed and six members of the security forces.
Some 200 civilians are said to have been wounded in the four-day siege.
Kenya on Wednesday began three days of national mourning.