Why did Al-Shabab attack inside Ethiopia?


Al-Shabab militants who crossed into eastern Ethiopia last week are still active inside the country despite claims by local officials that the force has been “destroyed,” say officials and security experts.

Officials on Monday said security forces clashed with al-Shabab fighters in Ethiopia’s Somali state at Lasqurun village, near the border town of Feerfeer. The state’s president, Mustafe Omer, was seen meeting with units of federal military forces who were dispatched to the area.

About 500 al-Shabab fighters, including many who originally came from Ethiopia’s Somali and Oromia regions, entered Ethiopia last Wednesday, multiple security and former al-Shabab operatives told VOA Somali’s “The Investigative Dossier” program. The incursion is the militant group’s biggest-ever operation inside Ethiopia.

Omar Mohamed Abu Ayan, a former al-Shabab official who now lives in Sweden, says the incursion was likely mounted for propaganda reasons.

He said the Islamist militant group, which has been fighting Somali governments and African Union peacekeepers since 2007, wants to show it can operate in Ethiopia as well as Somalia and Kenya.

“If they erect their flag that will be a victory for them,” Abu Ayan said. “They have been dreaming of penetrating Ethiopia for a long time, and to erect their flag. It will mean a huge victory. This will encourage global jihadists to support them.”


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