Cablegate: Addis Ababa Eac Meets to Discuss May 20 Explosions On
DE RUEHDS #1415/01 1421424
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 211424Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0712
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ADDIS ABABA 001415
DEPT FOR: DS/IP/AF, DS/IP/ITA, AF/EX AND CA/OCS/ACS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CASC ASEC ET
SUBJECT: ADDIS ABABA EAC MEETS TO DISCUSS MAY 20 EXPLOSIONS ON
PUBLIC TRANSPORT MINI-VAN.
1. (U) On Wednesday, May 21, 2008 The Addis Ababa Emergency Action
Committee (EAC) met to discuss the May 20 incident in which a public
transport mini-van experienced a bombing resulting in casualties.
The following EAC members were present: DCM, USAID, PAO, MGT, GSO,
ORA, MSG, OBO, CLO, USAU, POL/ECON, REFCOORD, HU, CLO, SAO, DAO, RSO
and Peace Corps.
THE MAY 20 INCIDENT
2. (U) On Tuesday, May 20, 2008 at approximately 20:08 hours local
time RSO Addis Ababa received reports of an explosion in Addis
Ababa, Ethiopia. It was reported a small local transport mini van
had exploded on a public street located adjacent to the Hilton
Hotel, directly outside the offices of the Ethiopian Government
Mapping Agency. This incident occurred approximately 1.5 miles
south of the Chancery, on a heavily traveled street passing through
a part of the city primarily occupied by Government of Ethiopia
offices (to include Ministry of Foreign Affairs) as well as the two
major hotels (Hilton and Sheraton). Three persons were reported
killed, five to nine others were reported wounded (depending on the
source) as result of this incident.
3. (U) The Mission does not have any residential or official
locations in this area. However, the Hilton hotel is frequented and
utilized by Mission personnel on a daily basis. The road where this
incident occurred is traveled on a daily basis by most Mission
personnel travelling to/from the Embassy. All Mission personnel are
safe and accounted for. Initially it was reported all those injured
and killed were local nationals. Later it was disclosed one of
those injured might be an Israeli citizen, who was a passenger on
the bus. Late on May 21, embassy learned that this individual was a
dual American/Israeli national. At about 4:15 local May 21 we
received notification that this individual died of his wounds. The
consular section is taking appropriate notification actions.
4. (U) No Mission personnel where reported to have been in the
immediate vicinity of this explosion. Some Mission personnel
residing at the nearby Hilton Hotel reported hearing and feeling the
explosion. Other mission personnel reported passing through the
scene of the incident immediately before (less then 5 minutes) the
explosion occurred. Within a short period of time following the
explosion, it was observed and reported most mini-van public
transports were apparently pulled from the street. Ethiopian police
response was swift, and the area was cordoned off for several hours.
The area was cleaned and reopened to traffic by 2245 hours. During
the early morning hours of May 21, all that remained of this
incident was a large trace burn mark on the pavement, some vehicle
glass fragments and some areas of staining on the asphalt
(presumably the result of vehicle or human fluids).
5. (SBU) Sources advise the following:
-The bombing of the mini van public transport is a malicious and
intentional act, and was not an accident.
-According to Ethiopian press reports, this incident was the result
of a terrorist act (NFI).
-One source advised the explosion involved a timed device that was
on the mini-van (NFI);
-Another source stated the explosion was the result of C-4 or high
6. (U) RSO Addis Ababa called in a telephone report to DS Command
Center upon receiving initial report of the explosion as well as a
later follow-up report as additional details were made available on
the evening of the incident. This was followed by a written Spot
Report to DS command center on the morning of May 21. All
information provided regarding this incident is subject to change as
additional information becomes available.
7. (U) The RSO briefed the EAC regarding the above incident. The
EAC assesses this incident as follows:
-The May 20 bombing of the public transport mini van represents a
disturbing trend when recalling the previous month's near
simultaneous bombings of two commercial petrol stations in Addis
Ababa, which also resulted in local civilian casualties. No group
ever took credit for this incident.
-Both the public transport mini-van and petrol bombings appear to be
targeting Ethiopians. Both of these venues are primarily patronized
by poor to moderate income Ethiopians. The petrol station bombings
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targeted the kerosene pumps. Kerosene is primarily used by poor and
moderate income Ethiopians for cooking and heating purposes.
- The EAC agreed a warden message was prudent. Post will work with
CA to accomplish this.
-Although the EAC agreed these incidents represent a disturbing
trend, they do not necessarily represent an increased risk to the
U.S. diplomatic mission in Ethiopia. Mission personnel (with the
exception of Peace Corps volunteers) are discouraged from using
public transport. The EAC concurred with advising American citizens
who do use public transportation to be aware of the risk posed by
unattended items in public places.
-The EAC agreed it was prudent to fine tune posts' notification
systems, to include revamping the telephone tree as well as
encouraging wide spread and regular monitoring of the Embassy's
radio network by all COM personnel. The RSO will take the lead on
this and issue mission wide guidance within the next 24 hours.
-Post's physical and procedural security posture is already
operating at an optimal level. The RSO will brief the LGF and RSO
personnel and remind them to be proactive and vigilant.
8. (U) Post EAC will continue this situation as well as the
security environment in Ethiopia in general, and report any
developments to the department accordingly.