Ethiopia’s federal court ruled on Thursday that 11 people should face terror charges after prosecutors said they formed a cell with an Islamist militant group from neighboring Somalia.
The charges come amid signs of increasing militancy in the East African nation. Ethiopian troops moved into Somalia at the beginning of the year to fight the Somalian militant group al-Shabaab.
Prosecutors said the suspects, who include one Kenyan national, formed a cell with the group.
Five suspects are in custody. Six others will be tried in absentia.
The charge sheet said the suspects have been mobilizing resources to train recruits and carry out attacks aimed at destroying Ethiopia’s political, economic and public establishments.
On Tuesday, the five suspects challenged the charges and asked the court the throw out the case. The court on Thursday rejected the request.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi last month told parliament that militants had formed terrorist cells in the country’s southern Arsi and Bale areas.
Ethiopia’s military push against militants in Somalia from 2006 to 2009 angered al-Shabaab and led to intensification of the insurgency.
There are signs of rising militancy in Ethiopia. Late last month a clash, triggered after security forces arrested a Muslim religious leader in the Oromia region, left four demonstrators dead.
The government on May 3 issued a statement accusing an unnamed group of trying to declare jihad against the government and incite violence in a number of mosques across the country. The statement added that a dozen suspects were recruited by the group from the country’s Oromia, Tigray and Amhara regions to carry out illegal activities.
The government also expelled two Arabs who flew in from the Middle East on May 4, saying the men went to a mosque and tried to incite violence.