UK: Shabaab plotting Djibouti attack

2014-06-12 14:31
Hundreds of newly trained al-Shabaab fighters perform military exercises in the Lafofe area some 18km south of Mogadishu, in Somalia. (Farah Abdi Warsameh, AP/File)

Hundreds of newly trained al-Shabaab fighters perform military exercises in the Lafofe area some 18km south of Mogadishu, in Somalia. (Farah Abdi Warsameh, AP/File)

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Nairobi - Somalia's al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab insurgents are planning further attacks in the Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti, Britain warned Thursday, after suicide bombers last month attacked a crowded restaurant.

"There are credible reports that al-Shabaab plan, and have the capability, to attack targets in Djibouti, including Western interests," the Foreign Office said, noting "there is a high threat from terrorism" in the port city.

Troops from Djibouti are part of the African Union force in Somalia fighting the Shabaab, and Djibouti's port also serves as a key base for ships taking part in international anti-piracy operations off the Somali coast.

"Djibouti and Western interests within Djibouti may be seen as a legitimate target by al-Shabaab because of its support to the Somali government and its participation in the African Union peacekeeping mission," the Foreign Office statement said.

Last month at least one person was killed and several wounded when two suicide bombers blew themselves up in a restaurant, the first attack in Djibouti to be claimed by the Shabaab since it joined the AU force in 2011.

Previous terrorist attacks

The Shabaab said the attack was also carried out in retaliation for Djibouti's hosting of the United States' biggest military base in Africa.

The US base is used for operations across the region, including drone strikes against the Islamists in Somalia.

France, the former colonial power, also has a base in the country.

Britain has this week also released warnings to citizens in several East African nations - including Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya and Uganda, who all have troops in Somalia - speaking of the threat of attacks at public screenings of the World Cup.

"Previous terrorist attacks in the region have targeted places where football matches are being viewed," Britain said, adding that crowded areas including "transport hubs, hotels, restaurants and bars" are also possible targets.

During the World Cup final four years ago, Shabaab insurgents killed at least 76 people after setting off explosions that ripped through two restaurants in the Ugandan capital Kampala.

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Read more on:    al-shabaab  |  al-qaeda  |  somalia  |  djibouti  |  us  |  east africa
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