23 June 2019

Ethiopia: Army Chief Shot During Coup Attempt, Says PM

Photo: @PMEthiopia/Twitter
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (file photo).

After reports of a coup attempt, the prime minister of Ethiopia has said the army chief of staff has been shot. Unknown elements reportedly attempted to topple a regional government.

Ethiopia's army chief of staff was shot, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced on television early Sunday.

The condition of army chief Seare Mekonnen is unknown.

Dressed in military fatigues, Abiy made the announcement after the government earlier said it had put down a coup attempt in the autonomous Amhara state.

Early on Sunday, Brigadier General Tefera Mamo, the head of special forces in Amhara, said on TV: "Most of the people who attempted the coup have been arrested, although there are a few still at large."

No details were given about who was behind the coup attempt in the northern state, led by regional president Ambachew Mekonen.

"The coup attempt in Amhara regional state is against the constitution and is intended to scupper the hard won peace of the region," the government said in a statement. "This illegal attempt should be condemned by all Ethiopians and the federal government has full capacity to overpower this armed group."

Gunshots heard

Residents in the region's capital, Bahir Dar, reported hearing gunshots in the city.

The US embassy issued alerts about gunfire in the country's capital, Addis Adaba, and violence around Bahir Dar.

Internet and media access has reportedly been limited across the country. Internet and cybersecurity monitor group NetBlocks reported nationwide internet access was at 2% of normal levels.

A former army intelligence officer, Abiy took office in April 2018 following three years of protests that forced Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn to resign.

He has since implemented economic reforms, opened up political space and prosecuted officials accused of human rights abuses. He also established relations with neighboring Eritrea.

However, ethnic tensions that were kept in check by the iron-fist of past rulers has lead to deadly violence.

cw/aw (AFP, Reuters)

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