Ethiopian Army Chief Shot Dead in 'Coup' Attempt

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (file photo).

Ethiopian army chief of staff Gen Seare Mekonnen, was on Saturday shot dead by his own bodyguard in the capital, Addis Ababa in what has been reported as an attempted coup.

Speaking on state television on Saturday, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed confirmed the incident and said General Seare Mekonnen was one of several casualties.

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The Prime Minister also confirmed the deaths of President of the Amhara Regional Government, Dr Ambachew Mekonnen, and the regional government Office Advisor, Ezez Wassie, during the early Saturday evening incident.

COUP PLOTTERS

According to the Prime Minister, General Seare has been trying to prevent plotters carrying out a coup in Amhara Regional Government, one of Ethiopia's nine federal states.

Gen Seare was killed along with another general, Gezai Abera, by the bodyguard who is now in custody, the prime minister's press office said.

The Chief of Staff had only served as head of the military for one year having being appointed by Mr Abiy, when he took office last April.

The attack in Bahir Dar was allegedly led by a renegade brigadier who had recently been pardoned by Ethiopia's Prime Minister after being in jail for the past seven years.

The bodyguard and other perpetrators of the killing have been arrested while others are being sought.

POLITICAL REPRESSION

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

But it has not been smooth sailing for the Prime Minister. In June last year, Mr Abiy survived a grenade attack at a rally which killed two people and left more than 100 injured.

Then in October 2018 rebellious Ethiopian soldiers protested over pay, causing a security incident in the capital.

Ethiopia is due to hold a national parliamentary election next year.

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