Published: Sun, June 23, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Attempted coup in Ethiopia, Army Chief of Staff shot

Attempted coup in Ethiopia, Army Chief of Staff shot

Ethiopia's chief of staff and at least three other senior officials have been killed during a coup attempt by an army general in the northern state of Amhara, state television said on Sunday. His condition was unknown.

The shooting in Bahir Dar occurred when the state president - an ally of Abiy - was holding a meeting to decide how to put a stop to the open recruitment of ethnic Amhara militias by Asamnew, one Addis-based official told Reuters.

Ethiopia's army chief of staff, Seare Mekonnen, has been shot, the prime minister's press secretary told Reuters early on Sunday, hours after a failed coup attempt was reported against the Amhara regional government.

The PM said the situation in the region and across the country is under control.

Abiy said: "There are a few people who were killed while others were injured".

Earlier, Abiy's office announced that an attempted coup had taken place in Amhara, one of nine autonomous regions in the country.

During the coup attempt on Saturday, access to Internet had been shut down and police checkpoints were placed throughout the capital.

But he has battled a surge in tensions between ethnic groups in the diverse country - usually over land and resources - leading to deadly violence in the nation of more than 100 million people.

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Since his election previous year, Mr Abiy has moved to end political repression by releasing political prisoners, removing bans on political parties and prosecuting officials accused of human rights abuses.

The internet was cut in Ethiopia, and more details were not immediately available.

The U.S. Embassy reported gunfire in the capital Saturday and urged people to be careful.

Mr Abiy said the coup was led by a high-ranking military official and others within the country's military.

The United States embassy issued alerts about reported gunfire in the capital Addis Ababa, and violence around Amhara's main city Bahir Dar.

Early on Sunday, Brigadier General Tefera Mamo, the head of special forces in Amhara, told state television that "most of the people who attempted the coup have been arrested, although there are a few still at large". Shortly after his election in June a year ago, militants from the Oromo Liberation Front threw grenades at a rally attended by Mr Abiy, killing two.

Abiy came to power in 2018, following the resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, after years of anti-government protests over economic and political exclusion, and led by the Oromo, Ethiopia's largest ethnic group. Several opposition groups have called for the elections to be held on time anyway.

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