ADDIS ABABA (AFP) – Two Somali nationals died when a bomb they were making detonated in their home in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, as thousands gathered to watch a football match, officials said Monday.
“The ones who died were of Somali origin,” Ethiopia’s Minister of Information Redwan Hussein told AFP.
The two deceased were in Ethiopia illegally and had rented a house in a Somali neighbourhood near the airport where the bomb exploded.
It is unclear whether the men were plotting to target the crowds in Addis Ababa watching a World Cup qualifier match, Redwan said.
“Who sent them is not yet known, no one has claimed responsibility for that and which incident, which event they were looking to explode is not yet known,” he said, adding that investigations are under way.
Neighbouring Kenya has been a frequent target of attacks by Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab rebels, who have demanded that Kenyan troops leave Somalia.
Last month, at least 67 people were killed during a four-day siege carried out by Shebab gunmen who ambushed an upmarket shopping mall in Nairobi.
Ethiopia, which shares a long border with Somalia, sent troops into the country in 2011 to help African Union and Somali defence forces fight Shebab extremists.
Redwan said several “terrorism plots” had been foiled on Ethiopian soil in the past, including a plan to target an AU summit in 2010, and added that security in the country remains tight.
AU forces have been in Somalia fighting the Shebab since 2007 and have pushed the Islamists out of all major towns, including the capital Mogadishu and the key port town of Kismayo. The Shebab still control swathes of rural areas in the south.
Last week, the AU announced it would beef up its forces by 35 percent, bringing the total number of men on the ground to 23,966.
Some Ethiopian troops started pulling out of Somali this year, but following the attacks in Nairobi, the Addis Ababa government said it has no plans to withdraw its forces from Somalia.