UPDATE: Ethiopia PM's aide says 83 injured in rally blast, no deaths

2018-06-23 14:14
 Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (File, AFP)

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (File, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

The chief of staff to Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said 83 people were injured in a blast at the premier's rally in the capital on Saturday but nobody was killed.

"As of now, based on reports from police and hospitals, 83 people are injured. Of the 83 injured, six are in critical condition. No death so far has been reported," Fitsum Arega said on Twitter. Abiy had been quoted by state media as saying that several people had been killed at the rally.

Abiy had just wrapped up his speech in the heart of Addis Ababa when the explosion went off, sending panicked crowds towards the stage as the prime minister left hurriedly, an AFP correspondent said.

He said the blast was orchestrated by groups who wanted to undermine the rally, without elaborating, according to state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate.

"All the casualties are martyrs of love and peace," Abiy was quoted as saying.

The cause of the blast was unknown and further details on the casualties were not immediately available.

Police fired tear gas as they moved in to clear Meskel square where the rally was held, the AFP correspondent said.

* Sign up to News24's top Africa news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO THE HELLO AFRICA NEWSLETTER

FOLLOW News24 Africa on Twitter and Facebook

It was Abiy's first public speech in the capital since he took office in April, although he has made several in provincial areas.

In the past three months, Abiy has made major changes in Ethiopia including shaking up the security services, releasing jailed dissidents, moving to liberalise the economy and to resolve a two-decade conflict with arch-enemy Eritrea.

"Ethiopia will be on top again, and the foundations will be love, unity and inclusivity," he declared on Saturday, dressed in a green T-shirt and a hat.

After the blast, dozens of people stormed the stage, hurling various objects at police, shouting: "Woyane down, down," and "Woyane thief", using a pejorative term for the government, the AFP correspondent said.

Opposition ends 'armed resistance'

Abiy succeeded Hailemariam Desalegn, who resigned in February amid a wave of anti-government protests led by the country's two largest ethnicities, that started in late 2015 and left hundreds of people dead.

His actions since coming to power represent dramatic shifts in the power balance within Africa's second-most populous country.

But it remains unclear how deep Abiy's support runs within the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) for carrying out the reforms.

On Friday, Ethiopian opposition group Ginbot 7 announced it would cease armed attacks in the country following the reforms announced by the new government.

Last month, Ethiopia released from prison top Ginbot 7 official Andargachew Tsige.

Prosecutors also dropped charges against the group's leader Berhanu Nega, who is based outside Ethiopia and had in 2009 received a death sentence in absentia over an assassination plot.

"Our forces have received strict orders to refrain from any sort of armed resistance," the group said in a statement.

Formed after a disputed 2005 election, Ginbot 7 - named after the date in the Ethiopian calendar when the ballot took place - has claimed numerous deadly attacks in the past.

Read more on:    abiy ahmed  |  ethiopia  |  east africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Kim Kardashian-West buys fake testicles to boost her dog’s self-esteem

Kim Kardashian is known for her over-the-top lifestyle and crazy spending habits. This may be a little extreme though…

 

Paws

10 tips on exercising your dog
Our top picks for doggo post of the week
Meet the unstoppable two-legged cat taking over the interwebs!
10 foods you should NEVER feed your dog!
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.