ADDIS ABABA: An Ethiopian court ruled on Thursday that eleven people, including a Kenyan, would be tried over charges they plotted to carry out a series of bombings in the Horn of Africa country.
The pre-trial hearing came weeks after Prime Minister Meles Zenawi announced security officers have broken up al Qaeda cells in Ethiopia's Muslim-majority south, the first time the group has been linked with the country.
Four Ethiopians and Kenyan Hassen Jarso appeared at the high court in the capital Addis Ababa. The rest, all Ethiopian, will be tried in absentia.
"According to the prosecutor's charge, they planned to plant explosives at public places and carry out other terrorist activities," government spokesman Shimeles Kemal told Reuters.
"The aim of the terror network was to establish an Islamic state by toppling the government," he added.
The court ruled all the defendants had a case to answer and adjourned the hearing until May 17.
Somalia's al Shabaab rebels , who are linked to al Qaeda, have repeatedly said they would launch attacks in neighbouring Ethiopia.
The Islamist group was angered by Addis Ababa's decision to sent troops into Somalia to back up government forces and a contingent of African Union peacekeepers.
Al Shabaab has already been blamed for a string of attacks in Kenya, which has also sent troops to Somalia.