ADDIS ABABA (AFP) — Ethiopian police have arrested the alleged masterminds of a plot to carry out attacks in the capital Addis Ababa, state media said Thursday.
The state ENA news agency quoted Ethiopian intelligence as saying the suspects were leaders of the rebel Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and of Kawerj, a previously unknown group.
"The Kawerj are an extremist group operating in Ethiopia," police spokesman Demsash Hailu told AFP without elaborating.
According to ENA, the "detainees (from the OLF) were mobilising finance and dispatching illegal weapons as well as recruiting members for their anti-peace activities."
"Similarly, the Kawerj have been operating to carry out a terrorist attack in the town under the disguise of religion. (Their) leaders are kept in custody with their documents and weapons."
The report did not say how many were detained.
But the OLF, which for more than three decades has fought for independence of the Oromia region in southern Ethiopia, accused the government of arbitrarily detaining Oromo people.
"The government continued massive arrest of prominent Oromos in an attempt to kill the Oromo nationalist spirit," a statement posted on OLF website said.
It listed 12 individuals as having been "sent to detention centres" in the past few days.
Security was beefed up in Addis Ababa on Tuesday when security officials warned of an "imminent" attack, without elaborating on the nature of the risk.
A series of blasts have rocked the Ethiopian capital this year with the authorities blaming neighbouring Eritrea, along with the OLF and the Ogaden National Liberation Front.
Relations between Asmara and Addis Ababa have been frosty since they fought a devastating 1998-2000 border war that claimed tens of thousands of lives on both sides. The dispute is yet to be resolved.
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