Ethiopia mourns general killed ‘in coup bid’


Ethiopia has held a memorial for the army chief of staff, Gen Seare Mekonnen, who was shot dead in an alleged coup attempt on Saturday.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed joined soldiers at a ceremony in Addis Ababa to honour the general, a key ally.

The assassination was reportedly part of a coup attempt in the Amhara region.

Officials say the alleged attacker, the general’s bodyguard, is being treated for his injuries – contradicting an earlier claim that he was dead.

The alleged ringleader behind the attempted coup, Brig Gen Asaminew Tsige, was shot dead on Monday, police said.

He was reportedly killed as he tried to escape from his hideout in the Asmara region’s capital, Bahir Dar.

Yesterday’s memorial service took place at a large venue in the Ethiopian capital, amid tight security.

Mourners paid their respects before flag-draped coffins bearing the bodies of Gen Seare and Gen Gezai Abera, a colleague who was assassinated with him.

In a statement on state media on Monday evening, Ethiopian federal police apologised for having earlier said that the alleged assassin, Gen Seare’s bodyguard, had killed himself.

The latest statement from the police said the bodyguard, who has not been named, was being treated for gunshot wounds in hospital. It is not clear if the injuries were self-inflicted.

The internet has been shut across Ethiopia, days after services resumed following an unexplained blackout lasting more than a week.

The attack on Gen Seare and Gen Abera on Saturday came hours after one that killed the governor of Amhara, Ambachew Mekonnen, along with two senior officials.

The government described the events as a co-ordinated attempt to seize power in the northern region.

Mr Abiy has urged Ethiopians to unite against “evil” forces set on dividing the country.

The weekend’s assassinations represent the biggest challenge yet to his year-old government, which has undertaken sweeping reforms to the security apparatus.

The BBC’s Emmanuel Igunza says there is clearly still significant opposition within the military to the prime minister’s style of leadership.

The US, a key ally, has condemned the unrest, saying it was probably linked to “vestiges of the old regime” unhappy with Mr Abiy’s reforms.

While details are still emerging, news of Gen Asaminew’s alleged bid for power was not a surprise for some Ethiopians.

BBC

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