Arrests announced as death toll rises in Ethiopia attack

2018-06-24 12:02
Ethiopian security forces intervene on Meskel Square in Addis Ababa where a blast killed several people during a rally called by the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. (AFP)

Ethiopian security forces intervene on Meskel Square in Addis Ababa where a blast killed several people during a rally called by the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. (AFP)

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The death toll from a grenade attack on a pro-government rally in Ethiopia's capital climbed to two on Sunday, a cabinet minister said, as police announced arrests over the blast.

"I'm so sorry to learn that we have lost another Ethiopian victim of yesterday's attack," health minister Amir Aman tweeted.

"My sincere sympathy and condolences to the family, friends and all Ethiopians."

The blast occurred in a packed public square as Ethiopia's new prime minister Abiy Ahmed was wrapping up a speech before tens of thousands of people.

The ensuing chaos injured more than 150 people and marred an event meant to build public support for Abiy's ambitious reform agenda.

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State-run Ethiopian News Agency reported police had arrested six people suspected of involvement in the blast, but gave few details.

No group has publicly claimed responsibility for the attack.

Abiy took office in April after years of anti-government unrest that pushed his predecessor to resign and the government to declare a nationwide state of emergency.

He's since announced plans to liberalise the economy and reconcile with neighbouring arch-enemy Eritrea.

Abiy also lifted the state of emergency and released scores of jailed dissidents.

Ethiopia is completely controlled by the secretive Ethiopia People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), and its unclear how much support Abiy has within the party.

The 42-year-old former government minister and army officer is the first prime minister in modern Ethiopia from the country's largest ethnicity the Oromo, which spearheaded the anti-government protests.

Read more on:    ethiopia  |  east africa
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