September 5, 2011 (ADDIS ABABA) - Some 29 terror suspects, which Ethiopian police said have links with banned rebel group the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), have been arrested by the country’s security services.
Among detained, are nine members of opposition parties, Oromo Peoples Congress (OPC) and Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM) the National Intelligence and Security Service and Federal Police Joint Anti-Terrorist Taskforce said on Tuesday.
"Some of the suspects were provided training on setting explosives and related terrorist plots in neighboring countries” the police said without indicating which countries it believes were at risk.
Ethiopia routinely accuses neighbouring Eritrea of arming, training terrorists and carrying out mercenary attacks to destabilise the country. Eritrea, which broke away from Ethiopia two decades ago and has since fought a bitter border war with its larger neighbour, deny it backs armed groups in Ethiopia.
"Evidence showed that some of the suspects were trying to carry out their disruptive acts in an organized manner and bringing illicit weapons and explosives to the country” the police added.
According to police the suspects have also received training by Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), a rebel group recently designated as a terrorist organisation by the horn of Africa country.
The anti-terrorism task force said the suspects were using political party membership to hide their activities and to cover their membership with outlawed OLF and have in the past been detained repeatedly for their subversive acts.
But opposition leaders dismissed the charges, saying the government is "well-known for its fabrications."
The government "don’t want to know the facts, so they come up with their lies," Andualem Arage, a senior member of the opposition coalition Medrek told AFP.
"They are doing this to prevent people from standing up for their rights," Arage added, claiming the government is fearful Arab Spring-type protests could erupt in Ethiopia.
The arrests followed the detention of OFDM deputy chairman Bekele Gerba and the OPC’s Olbana Lelisa on August 27. The two opposition leaders were arrested shortly after they met delegates from rights group Amnesty International.