Monday, November 17, 2008

Security Alert: US Embassy in Ethiopia issues terror alert warning US citizens against taking part in the Great Ethiopian Run 23 Nov 2008

November 14, 2008 report from Anyuak Media US Embassy in Ethiopia issues terror warning:
November 13, 2008 (NAIROBI, Kenya) - The U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia has warned American citizens against taking part in the Great Ethiopian Run because of the threat of terrorism.

Great Ethiopian Run 2007

Photo: Great Ethiopian Run 2007 (ENA/AM)

Friday's message says embassy staff and their families should not to take part in the 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) race set for Nov. 23. The message followed an unspecified terror warning from the Ethiopian government about the race featuring tens of thousands of runners from Ethiopia and around the world. The race is led by distance great Haile Gebrselassie.

The message did not say if the event was named as a specific target but reminded U.S. citizens of deadly bombings this year in the capital, Addis Ababa.

Ethiopia is fighting insurgent groups and supporting the U.N.-backed government in Somalia.
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Warden Message
November 14, 2008
Security Alert – Great Ethiopian Run
The U.S. Embassy is issuing this warden message to inform American citizens that in light of the Government of Ethiopia’s warning of an unspecified terrorist threat concern in Ethiopia, as detailed in a Warden Message dated November 6, the Embassy has ordered all Embassy American staff and their family members not to take part in the Great Ethiopian Run, scheduled for November 23 in Addis Ababa.  Private American citizens are likewise advised to avoid the event.  This precautionary measure is in keeping with the Embassy’s advice that Americans avoid public gatherings and public places.

The Embassy takes this opportunity to reiterate its advice to American citizens to avoid public gatherings and public places, including hotels, and that they avoid using public transportation and transportation hubs.  The Embassy further reminds Americans there have been targeted bombings in various parts of Addis Ababa over the past year that resulted in serious injuries and/or deaths. 

Americans are reminded to review their personal safety and security posture and to remain vigilant especially at public events and venues.  Americans are advised to beware of unattended baggage or packages left in any location, including in minibuses and taxis.

For the latest security information, Americans living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs internet website at, where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Alerts, and Travel Warnings can be found.  Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada, or, for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.  These numbers are available from 8 AM to 8 PM Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. Federal Holidays.)

The U.S. Embassy is located at Entoto Avenue, P.O. Box 1014, in Addis Ababa; telephone: 251-11-124-2424; emergency after-hours telephone: 251-11-124-2400; consular fax: 251-11-124-2435; web site:
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Ethiopia Issues Terror Warning

November 06, 2008 Voice of America report by Peter Heinlein, Addis Ababa - Ethiopia Issues Terror Warning
The U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa has issued a heightened security alert a day after Ethiopia's government warned of an imminent terrorist attack. VOA's Peter Heinlein in the Ethiopian capital reports the alert coincides with a government roundup of ethnic Oromos, including several prominent citizens, on suspicion of collaborating with terrorists.

An e-mail sent by the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia advises Americans in the country to avoid public gatherings and public places. The message specifically mentions hotels as places to avoid.

The message was sent less than 24 hours after Ethiopia's Anti-Terrorism Task Force warned of an imminent terrorist attack and urged citizens to be vigilant.

Police recently rounded up about two dozen members of Ethiopia's largest ethnic community, the Oromos, and charged them with aiding terrorists. Among those arrested were the top managers of two of Addis Ababa's finest hotels, as well as the leader of one of the largest Oromo political parties.

Witnesses say those detained were told during a courtroom proceeding that they were suspected of collecting money and sending it to known members of the Oromo Liberation Front, an armed insurgent group.

Bereket Simon, senior adviser to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi was quoted earlier as saying the leader of the Oromo Federal Democratic Movement, Bakele Jirata, had been working 'hand in glove' with terrorists.

In an e-mail sent to VOA this week, the OLF said its fighters had killed 31 Ethiopian soldiers in a clash October 31 in eastern Oromia region. The message told of two other similar clashes earlier in the month. Government spokesman Zemedkun Tekle dismissed the OLF message, calling it fabricated, and an attempt by the rebels to get attention.

Police were out in force in Addis Ababa after the security alert.

Security was especially tight around the city's best hotels, but diplomats and political observers cautioned not to read too much into the timing of the terrorist warning and the arrest of prominent Oromos.

They note other violent insurgent groups also operate in Ethiopia, including the Ogaden National Liberation Front, which is blamed for several suicide bombings last week in the Somaliland and Puntland regions of neighboring Somalia.

The ONLF is also blamed for a deadly attack on a Chinese-run oil exploration site in Ethiopia's Ogaden region last year.

The leader of Ethiopia's largest Oromo party, Merara Gudina, tells VOA he does not understand why the crackdown is occurring.

"Really I could not make heads nor tails of it except that the government is sometimes routinely harassing Oromos and political activists, [and] all of us on the legal platform especially during the elections. These things are routine," he said.

Merera, who heads the Oromo National Congress, and the leader of the Oromo Federal Democratic Movement parliamentary bloc both vehemently deny any involvement with the OLF insurgency.

Oromos are Ethiopia's largest ethnic community, making up as much as 35 to 40 percent of the country's estimated 80 million people

Ethiopia's capital has been the scene of several terrorist attacks this year. In May, a bomb blew up in a taxi van in front of the Hilton Hotel, killing six people, including a man with dual U.S. and Israeli citizenship. A coordinated series of gas station bombings killed three people in April, and a blast in a public hall last month killed four and injured more than 20 others. 
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See Ethiopia Watch Friday, November 14, 2008: Ethiopian authorities warning of terrorist attacks - Ethiopia arrested individuals it said had links to OLF leaders in Eritrea - November 7, 2008 (ADDIS ABABA) — Ethiopia on Friday said that an extremist group leader who is responsible for a number of terror attacks is killed by local people in the Western Oromia region of Wollega Zone.



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