MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) – A little-known Somali Islamist group claimed responsibility on Thursday for a bomb attack that killed three people in Ethiopia on the eve of national celebrations to mark the 17th anniversary of the current government’s ascent to power.
“We will keep on fighting until we liberate our country from the Ethiopian invaders,” said Haji Abukar, a spokesman for the Islamic Guerrillas, after claiming responsibility for Tuesday’s bombing in Nagele, 560 kilometers (347 miles) south of the capital, Addis Ababa.
“Our fighters will continue their holy war against the enemy of Somalia and we will target them everywhere.”
The Guerillas are a relatively little known group in Somalia and Ethiopia, and only began making public statements three months ago.
It was not possible to independently verify their claim. “We are an Islamic group that stands for the liberation of Somalia and have a good relationship with the rest of the insurgents in Somalia,” Abukar said.
Ethiopian troops have been supporting the shaky Somali government since December 2006, when they helped drive out an Islamic group from Mogadishu, the capital, and much of the rest of southern Somalia. The Islamists vowed to fight an Iraq-style insurgency and thousands of Somalis have been killed in the subsequent fighting.
Ethiopian government spokesman Zemedkun Tekle previously said the bombings were probably the work of the rebel Oromo Liberation Front group.
“We suspect that those attacks were aimed to disrupt the public, to horrify the people,” says Zemedkun. “They were ordinary people enjoying themselves.”
Ethiopia’s vast military is currently battling several rebellions in different parts of the country, including one by ethnic Somalis in the country’s Ogaden region that borders Somalia. Those rebels accuse the government of atrocities against civilians and withholding food aid, charges the government denies.