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Saturday, 7 December, 2002, 22:59 GMT
Meles links Somalis to Kenya attacks
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi (left) being interviewed by Martin Plaut
Meles (left): Al-Ittihad is growing threat to region

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has said he has indications that a group operating out of Somalia may have been behind last month's attacks on Israelis in Kenya.


People are beginning to recognize that al-Ittihad is indeed a threat linked to al-Qaeda

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi
Mr Meles told the BBC that the Somali group with links to al-Qaeda - known as al-Ittihad - may have travelled to Kenya by boat to carry out their operation.

He offered no evidence to substantiate these views.

But with senior US officials due in Addis Ababa next week, Mr Meles will have every opportunity to convince them that the group had a hand in the attacks.

The prime minister was speaking after his return to Addis Ababa from the United States, where he said he had discussed security matters with President George W Bush.

Growing threat

The attacks on Israelis in the Kenyan port of Mombasa have reinforced Ethiopia's long-held belief that Somalia is a source of instability throughout the region.

Somali refugees in Kenya
There are thousands of Somalis in Kenya

Ethiopia has frequently warned about the dangers posed by the obscure al-Ittihad group.

The group is seen not only as a threat to Ethiopian security, but - because of its links to al-Qaeda - as a cause of international concern.

Before the Kenyan attacks these warnings tended to be treated with some scepticism in the West.

Now, says Mr Meles, they are receiving greater attention: "People are beginning to recognise that al-Ittihad is indeed a threat linked to al-Qaeda."

"Our indications seem to suggest that the terrorists may have started from Rascomboni in Somalia and gone to Mombasa using boats that were launched from Rascomboni."


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03 Dec 02 | Africa
02 Dec 02 | Africa
30 Nov 02 | South Asia
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