Deadly blast at rally for reformist Ethiopia PM

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Explosion rocks venue shortly after Ahmad addresses gathering

Deadly blast at rally for reformist Ethiopia PM

Explosion rocks venue shortly after Ahmad addresses gathering

Ethiopians attend a rally in support of the new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia June 23, 20Image Credit: Reuters
A screen grab shows the crowd attending the speech of Ethiopia’s reformist new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmad on SaImage Credit: Screengrab

AP Addis Ababa: One person died and scores of others were hurt after a grenade blast at new Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmad's first mass rally in the capital that sent crowds fleeing in panic.

Abiy had just wrapped up his speech before tens of thousands of people in the heart of Addis Ababa when the explosion went off, sending droves of supporters towards the stage as the prime minister left hurriedly, an AFP correspondent said.

Girma Kassa, deputy head of Addis Ababa’s police commission, told the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporation that 100 people had been injured in the attack, 15 of them “severely”.

Addressing the country minutes after he was hurried to safety, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmad said “a few people” had been killed and others injured.

He called the blast a “well-orchestrated attack” but one that failed. He did not lay blame but said police were investigating. An Associated Press reporter saw more than a dozen injured people.

“The prime minster was the target,” a rally organiser, Seyoum Teshome, told the AP.

Held back by the crowd

“An individual tried to hurl the grenade toward a stage where the prime minister was sitting but was held back by the crowd.”

Three suspects, two men and a woman, were immediately arrested, Seyoum said.

The attack was “cheap and unacceptable,” the prime minister said, and added: “Love always wins. Killing others is a defeat. To those who tried to divide us, I want to tell you that you have not succeeded.”

Not everyone has cheered the reforms. Some Ethiopians in the north near the border with Eritrea, one of the world’s most reclusive nations, have protested the embrace of the peace deal. And the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front, a party in Ethiopia’s ruling coalition that has been the dominant force in government for most of the past 27 years, said the announcement on the peace deal had been made before the ruling coalition’s congress met to discuss it: “We see this as a flaw.”

Abiy is the first prime minister from the Oromo ethnic group, the largest in the country, since the ruling party came to power in 1991. Ethiopia’s sometimes deadly protests demanding more freedoms began in the Oromia and Amhara regions in late 2015 and spread elsewhere, finally leading to the resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn early this year.

Abiy visited the restive regions shortly after taking office and stressed the importance of resolving differences through dialogue instead.

SOURCE : GULF NEWS

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