UK travel warning over threat to Ethiopia AU summit


Britain amended its travel advice for Ethiopia after the Australian foreign ministry warned that militants were planning bomb attacks on Addis Ababa during an African Union summit starting this week.

The British Foreign Office told its citizens to be vigilant, especially in crowded areas, such as bus stations, and places frequented by foreigners, including hotels, restaurants and bars.
“Due to the African Union Summit taking place in Addis Ababa between 27 and 31 January 2011 there may be an increased security threat to the city,” it said on its website.
“Visitors should take extra precautions during these dates.” The overall level of advice was unchanged, Reuters reports.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade updated its travel advice for Ethiopia on its website on Tuesday to include the following warning:
“According to credible information, extremists are planning to bomb unspecified locations within Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, during the Africa Union Summit.”

No further information was immediately available, but a Western diplomat in Addis Ababa said the information his colleagues had was that Somali militants might be planning attacks on the city.

Authorities in the African country have been on alert since late 2008 following information about plans to carry out a terrorist attack within their borders, the UK website said.

Ethiopia invaded Somalia in late 2006 to oust an Islamist administration based in the capital Mogadishu, driving the Islamists into southern Somalia, where they regrouped and launched an insurgency against the new government.

Ethiopia withdrew its troops in early 2009, but the insurgency is still raging, with the AU providing support for the government.

Al Shabaab, the biggest militant group in Somalia, has carried out attacks outside its own country in the past.

In July 2010, the group said it had carried out two bomb attacks in Uganda, killing 74 soccer fans watching the soccer World Cup final on television in a restaurant and a rugby club in the capital Kampala.