President Mulatu Teshome of Ethiopia has lauded the country's defense forces for their efforts aimed at maintaining peace and security at home and in the Horn of Africa region.
The President was speaking to the forces at the celebration of the fifth Defense Force Day held in the Jigjiga town, capital of the Ethiopian Somali regional State on Tuesday February 14, 2017.
"The day is unique as we are celebrating it with our heroes who managed to inflict heavy losses on the Islamist militant group al-Shabab," Mulatu is quoted by the state-affiliated FBC to have said.
The President also awarded medals to the 13th Division 4th battalion for their strides in combating al-Shabab insurgents in Somalia.
The head of the Defense forces on his part said they were only discharging the constitutional mandate to protect the country from internal and external aggression.
General Samora Yenus added that Ethiopian troops were also actively engaged in peacekeeping operations in neighbouring countries as part of their regional security mandate. Ethiopia marks every February 14 as Defense Force Day.
Ethiopia is currently under a six-month state-of-emergency imposed last year to help quell anti-government protests in the Amhara and Oromia regions. The protests have led to mass arrests of political opposition and hundreds of people are said to have died in the security clampdown.
Ethiopia as been a strong force in mediating in the South Sudan political crisis and in maintaining peace in neighbouring Somalia. They are also in the forefront of the regional peace and security group, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).