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Cablegate: Emergency Action Committee Assesses Security After

VZCZCXRO7953
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHDS #1054 1061421
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 151421Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0310
RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS ADDIS ABABA 001054

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR: DS/IP/AF, DS, IP/ITA, AF/E, AND CA/OCS/ACS
S/CT FOR B.PHIPPS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CASC ASEC PTER ET
SUBJECT: EMERGENCY ACTION COMMITTEE ASSESSES SECURITY AFTER
EXPLOSIONS AT TWO ADDIS ABABA COMMERCIAL FUEL STATIONS.

2. (U) On April 15, 2008 Post's Emergency Action Committee (EAC) met
to assess the security situation after explosions occurring at
approximately 1835 hours on the evening of April 14, 2008 at two
commercial fuel stations in Addis Ababa. EAC members present
included: ORA, DAO, CJTF-HOA, POL/ECON, USAID, CDC, CONS, GSO, Peace
Corps, Health Unit, MGT, PAS, MSG, CJTF HOA, USAU, OBO SSM, SAO, PDT
MIST and RSO. The Ambassador was attending an event outside Addis
Ababa. The DCM was out of the country.

3. (U) The RSO briefed the EAC regarding the situation. Information
available to date suggests that during the evening rush hour period
at approximately 1835 hours on 04/14/2008 an explosion was reported
to have occurred at a commercial fuel station. Preliminary reports
indicated one explosion had occurred, the result of an accident. It
was later reported that a second explosion had occurred at a second
commercial fuel station belonging to the same Ethiopian government
affiliated chain. Initially it was assessed the explosions were near
simultaneous. The general consensus of the EAC, including members
who heard both explosions, is ten or more minutes elapsed between
the first and second explosion, and both incidents were the result
of intentional acts. The two fuel stations are located approximately
five minutes driving time from each other.

4. (U) The above explosions are reported to have resulted in three
civilians killed and 16 to 19 injured (No further information).
Both of these explosions were reported to have occurred at the
kerosene pumps located at each of the commercial fuel stations. The
host country government has not yet issued a statement regarding the
explosions at this time and Ethiopian news sources have not run this
story.

5. (U) The EAC assesses both of these incidents the result of an
intentional act committed by unknown persons for unknown reasons.
The EAC agreed that the fact that the incidents occurred at the
kerosene pumps indicates the perpetrators were primarily motivated
to target local civilians or to dissuade civilians from patronizing
the Ethiopian government affiliated fuel outlet. Kerosene is
primarily used by local civilians for cooking and heating purposes.
It is not uncommon to see lines of local civilians at the kerosene
pumps making purchases in small quantities. Based on this
assessment, the EAC did not believe this incident was targeting
western or U.S. interests.

6. (U) On 04/15/08 RSO Addis Ababa visited the two commercial fuel
stations and observed the damaged kerosene pumps. Both pumps were
completely destroyed. There were also black scorch marks on the
adjacent perimeter walls. No other damage was noted at either of
the locations. Sources advise one persons of interest has been
detained by the police for questioning, a fuel pump technician who
had recently serviced both of the kerosene pumps.

7. (U) The EAC deemed it prudent to take the necessary action:

A. Encourage all mission personnel to monitor the Embassy's two way
radio network. In the event of a developing security situation the
radio network will serve as the primary means to alert the Embassy
community in a quick and reliable means as the cell phone network is
time consuming (there is no mass text messaging capability in
country) and could be unavailable due to technical limitations and
other restrictions. The large size of the Mission would also make
it difficult to reasonably alert personnel regarding a situation of
interest in a timely manner;

B. Avoid large public venues with poor security and access control
measures;

C. Continue to vary times, routes and places frequented;

D Vary the times when the Embassy's official vehicles refuel at a
commercial fuel station where the USG has an account. (COMMENT: This
fuel station is not the same chain as those targeted. END COMMENT)

D. Work with the Department to release a consular message advising
American citizens regarding the incident and reminding them
regarding the current security advisories in effect for Ethiopia and
throughout the region;

8. (U) Post will continue to monitor this situation and report
developments accordingly.

YAMAMOTO

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