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Report: Ethiopia arrests 16 in an Iranian cell planning attack on UAE embassy

Kan says fears of Iranian attack led to two months of high alert at Israeli mission in the African country

Illustrative: Ethiopian Federal Police ride through Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Friday May 21, 2010. (AP/Jerome Delay)
Illustrative: Ethiopian Federal Police ride through Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Friday May 21, 2010. (AP/Jerome Delay)

The Israeli Embassy in Ethiopia was on high alert over the last two months due to fears of a potential Iranian attack, according to a Thursday television report.

The Kan News report also said Ethiopian authorities have arrested 16 suspects who were planning an attack against the United Arab Emirates embassy in the African nation’s capital, Addis Ababa.

Israeli officials told Kan that Iran was behind the attempt, in retaliation for the killing of its top general Qassem Soleimani by the US last year and of top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in November. Iran blamed Israel for Fakhrizadeh’s killing and swore revenge.

The Iranian cell also planned an attack against the UAE embassy in Sudan, Ethiopian authorities told Kan.

Military personnel stand near the flag-draped coffin of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, during a funeral ceremony in Tehran, Iran, November 30, 2020. (Iranian Defense Ministry via AP)

A Monday report on Kan said Iranian agents who scouted out the Israeli, American, and Emirati embassies in an unnamed East African country in preparation for a potential attack had been arrested. It was not immediately clear whether those were the same 16 suspects in Ethiopia.

Traversing across multiple continents, some of the suspects planning the attacks in East Africa, were European, including the alleged mastermind, Ahmed Ismail, a Swede, who was arrested in Sweden after local authorities exchanged intelligence with Ethiopian counterparts, Kan said.

Last Friday saw a blast rock the Israeli embassy in New Delhi, India. The explosion damaged cars but did not cause injuries.

Israeli authorities are treating the explosion as a suspected terror attack aimed at the embassy, and have stepped up security precautions at missions around the world.

National Security Guard soldiers inspect the site of a blast near the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi, India, January 30, 2021. (Dinesh Joshi/AP)

A handwritten note found at the scene of the bombing claimed responsibility for a previously unknown group identifying itself as “India Hezbollah.” It cited the killings of Soleimani and Fakhrizadeh, according to Indian media reports.

Unconfirmed Indian media reports claimed police had detained and questioned some Iranian nationals in New Delhi.

A police statement described the Friday explosion as having been caused by a “very low-intensity, improvised device,” that blew out the windows on three nearby cars, and said a preliminary investigation “suggests a mischievous attempt to create a sensation.”

In 2012, the wife of Israel’s defense attaché to India was moderately injured after a motorcyclist attached a bomb to her car near Israel’s New Delhi embassy. Iran was suspected in the attack. It was part of a series of attempted attacks against Israeli targets around the world attributed to Iran.

There was speculation that those incidents were in response to Israel’s alleged assassinations of multiple Iranian nuclear scientists as Jerusalem fought to curtail Iran’s nuclear program.

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