Monday 14 October 2019

Ethiopian army chief shot dead by bodyguard in 'coup' bid

Defiant: Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed addresses the public on TV dressed in military fatigues. Photo: Getty Images
Defiant: Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed addresses the public on TV dressed in military fatigues. Photo: Getty Images

James Rothwell

THE Ethiopian government appeared to have foiled a coup attempt last night after the army's chief of staff was shot dead by his own bodyguard and several other high-ranking officials were killed.

Appearing on state television in military fatigues, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said the coup attempt, in the Amhara region, had been led by a senior military officer.

Since taking office just over a year ago, Mr Abiy has embarked on unprecedented reforms in Ethiopia, Africa's second-most populous country and one of its fastest-growing economies.

But his shake-up of the military and intelligence services has earned him powerful enemies, while his government is struggling to rein in powerful figures in Ethiopia's myriad ethnic groups fighting the government and each other for influence and resources.

According to the prime minister's spokesman, the attack took place when a "hit squad" opened fire on a meeting of senior officials.

The men were "gravely injured in the attack and later died of their wounds", he said, adding that the regional attorney general was seriously wounded.

Ambachew Mekonnen, the state president, and his adviser were also shot in the attack.

As for the coup itself, she said that Asaminew Tsige, the local security chief, was the ringleader.

He added: "Several hours later, in what seems like a co-ordinated attack, the chief of staff of the national security forces Seare Mekonnen was killed by his bodyguard".

Gen Seare and a visiting retired general were shot dead in his home in the upmarket Bole district of the capital, Addis Ababa, which is home to diplomats and aid workers.

Experts said it was difficult to establish why the regional coup was attempted and they doubted it was a part of an attempted national coup. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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