Cablegate: Recent Improvised Explosive Device Incidents in Ethiopia.
DE RUEHDS #1502/01 1541148
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 021148Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0805
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ADDIS ABABA 001502
DEPT FOR: DS/IP/AF, IP/ITA, AF/E, AND CA/OCS/ACS
S/CT FOR B.PHIPPS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CASC ASEC PTER ET
SUBJECT: Recent Improvised Explosive Device Incidents in Ethiopia.
1. (U) During the past several months there have been numerous
apparent Improvised Explosive Device (IED) incidents in Ethiopia,
with an increased number occurring in Addis Ababa. This appears to
be a reoccurrence of the trend of approximately 35 to 40 similar IED
incidents reported within Addis Ababa during the period of April
2005 and November 2006.
2. (U) Below are the latest apparent IED incidents for 2008 reported
in Ethiopia. Note, this list does not include grenade incidents
(primarily tend to occur in the Somalia region).
A. FEBRUARY 29 - MERKATO DISTRICT COMMERCIAL BANK EXPLOSION.
On February 29, 2008 at 1615 hours there was an explosion outside
the Commercial Bank Branch located in the Merkato District of Addis
Ababa. No injuries or deaths were reported, however the bank
building did sustain damage. No groups have claimed responsibility
for this incident. Police investigation is ongoing. This explosion
was determined to be the result of an IED.
B. MARCH 13 - HUMERA BUS EXPLOSION
On March 13, 2008 there was an explosion on a bus in Humera
(northern Ethiopia, near the Ethiopian-Eritrea border) resulting in
7 killed and at least 10 injured. No groups have claimed
responsibility for this incident. Police investigation is ongoing.
It is assumed this explosion was the result of an IED.
C. MARCH 21 -IMPROVISED EXPLOSIVE DEVICE DETONATED AT BOLE/RING
During the late night/early morning hours an Improvised Explosive
Device was detonated under a highway overpass at Bole and Ring Road
in Addis Ababa (in close proximity to the International Airport).
No casualties or property damage was reported. No groups have
claimed responsibility for this incident. Police investigation is
D. MARCH 21 - EXPLOSION HEARD NEAR CHURCH
On March 21, 2008 at approximately 0400 hours several Embassy guards
reported hearing a loud explosion in the vicinity of St. Michael's
church in Addis Ababa. Further confirmation regarding the cause of
this explosion could not be verified.
MARCH 28 - EXPLOSION AT ADDIS ABABA LION ZOO
On Thursday, March 27, 2008 at 0130 hours there was an explosion at
the Addis Ababa City Administration Lion Zoo.
An Improvised Explosive Device exploded in a public restroom
facility, resulting in some property damage and no deaths or
injuries. No groups have claimed responsibility for this incident.
Police investigation is ongoing.
E. APRIL 14 - TWO COMMERCIAL GAS STATIONS BOMBED IN ADDIS ABABA
On April 14, 2008 at approximately 1835 hours during the evening
rush hour period two commercial petrol stations experienced near
simultaneous explosions. The two petrol stations are both part of
the same chain (National Oil Corporation - which is closely
affiliated with the government) and are located approximately five
minutes driving time from each other. These explosions resulted in
four civilians killed and 16 to 19 others injured.
Both of these explosions were reported to have occurred at the
kerosene pumps, which seems to indicate the perpetrators were
focused on targeting Ethiopians. Kerosene is primarily used by
local civilians for cooking and heating purposes. It is not
uncommon to see lines of local civilians queued at the kerosene
pumps making purchases in small quantities.
The Ethiopian police confirmed the explosions were the result of
Improvised Explosive Devices (concealed in jerry cans or liquid
containers) left in the immediate proximity of the kerosene pumps by
unknown individuals. No groups have claimed responsibility for this
incident. Police investigation is ongoing; there have been some
reports of suspects in custody.
F. MAY 20 - MINI BUS PUBLIC TRANSPORT BOMBING IN ADDIS ABABA
On Tuesday, May 20, 2008 at approximately 2008 hours local time a
local public transport mini bus exploded on a public street located
adjacent to the Hilton Hotel, directly outside the offices of the
Ethiopian Government Mapping Agency and in close proximity of the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
This incident occurred approximately 1.5 miles south of the U.S.
Chancery, on a heavily traveled street passing through a part of the
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city primarily occupied by Government of Ethiopia offices (to
include Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Prime Minister's Office and
National Intelligence Security Service) as well as the two major
hotels (Hilton and Sheraton). Six civilians were reported killed, 5
others were reported wounded as result of this incident. One of
those killed was an American citizen who was a passenger in the bus.
The bus originated its route at Addis Ababa University shortly
before the explosion.
Mini bus public transports are a significant part of the local
public transportation infrastructure. These mini buses travel
throughout the city, picking and dropping off passengers along their
routes. These public transports are typically configured to haul
between 12 to 14 passengers each, and are identified by their common
markings of blue and white two-tone exterior paint.
As of yet, no groups have claimed responsibility for this bombing
and police investigation is on-going. It has been determined the
explosion was the result of a timed Improvised Explosive Device
placed on the bus.
G. MAY 26 - HOTEL BOMBINGS NEGALLE BORENA:
On Monday, May 26, 2008 at approximately 1945 hours two hotels
located in Negalle Boreno experienced explosions resulting in three
killed and five wounded. Negalle Borena is a city in Oromiya
Regional State, located 320 miles south of Addis Ababa.
Police investigation is on going. There is some speculation these
bombing were carried out by the Oromiya Liberation Front (OLF). A
Somali militant group reportedly accepted responsibility for this
bombing on a Mogadishu based radio station broadcast, stating the
hotel bombing targeted Ethiopians as "enemies of Islam."
H. MAY 28 - MERKATO BOMBING PLOT FOILED
On May 28, 2008 at approximately 1200 hours there was a report of a
foiled IED attack in the Addis Ababa Merkato district, at a busy
local liquor/grocery store which includes a small tavern. The
Merkato district is a densely populated commercial center, primarily
frequented by Ethiopians.
A local male youth loitering outside the store was approached by an
unidentified Ethiopian (NFI) and asked to carry a parcel to give to
another party inside the store. The local male youth accepted the
parcel and proceeded into the store. An employee in the store became
suspicious and confronted the local male youth regarding the parcel.
The local male youth stated he received the parcel from another
party outside the store
By the time the local male youth and store employee went outside to
look for the unidentified Ethiopian male subject, they had already
disappeared. The store employee immediately called police. Police
and EOD personnel arrived at the location and removed the detonating
device from the explosive device, rendering it safe.
No groups have claimed responsibility for this plot and police
investigation is on going
3. (U) The above incidents are most likely not all related to the
same group, however some inevitably are. The above incidents
(especially those occurring within Addis Ababa) illustrate the
following trends which are disturbing:
A. Previous Addis Ababa IED incidents tended to occur late at
night, in unpopulated venues where nobody was likely to get hurt.
B. The most recent Addis Ababa IED incidents occurred during
day-time hours at populated venues and were carried out in a manner
in which casualties/fatalities were assured.
C. Previous IED incidents were never claimed by any group and were
generally attributed to internal separatist groups.
D. If the claims by Somali militant group regarding the Negalle
Borneo hotel bombings is correct, this adds a new dynamic to the
local threat environment. Previously it was generally assumed
any/all IED incidents in Ethiopia were the result of internal
separatist groups (OLF or ONLF).
4. (U) The recent Addis Ababa IED incidents targeting densely
populated venues are disturbing. Many local public venues (to
include major hotels and entertainment centers) already enforce
access control and security screening measures (all person and their
effects are subject to security screening). Some public venues have
noticeably enhanced existing security measures (a local cinema was
noted to have three levels of physical security screening). The RSO
already encourages Mission personnel not to patronize any large
uncontrolled public venues that lack access control and security
screening. Since the May 20 mini-bus bombings the Ethiopia
authorities have conducted several roadside security checkpoints
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within Addis Ababa in apparent follow up to tips received. These
checkpoints involve searching all vehicles and occupants.
5. (U) The local population is vigilant, naturally suspicious and
quick to notify the authorities in the event of unusual activity (as
was the case in the foiled May 28 IED incident targeting a Mercato
district retail outlet). On May 30, 2008 local citizens notified
the authorities regarding a jerry can observed in the Addis Ababa
Piazza district during the morning rush hour. The Ethiopian bomb
squad quickly responded, and fortunately the jerry can was
determined to not be a threat (it was empty). Nevertheless, the
recent IED incidents have resulted in a climate of increased tension
among the average citizen who already has more then enough worries
in their day-to-day lives, to include; lack of adequate electrical
power, lack of adequate water, increased food prices, increased
fuel/transportation costs, rampant inflation, increased housing
costs, high unemployment, less then favorable social-economic
conditions and an uncertain political climate. If these problems
persist in the coming months, the general security climate in
Ethiopia will continue to become more difficult and uncertain as
this country moves towards to 2010 national elections.