Ethiopia Coup Ringleader Killed

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Brig-Gen Asaminew Tsige

The suspected ringleader of Saturday’s failed coup attempt in Ethiopia’s Amhara region has been shot dead, police say.

Brig-Gen Asaminew Tsige was killed as he attempted to escape from his hideout in Amhara’s capital, police added.

Ethiopia’s army chief Gen Seare Mekonnen was killed while trying to foil the coup, the government said.

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

Flags are flying at half-mast after the government declared a day of mourning to mark the deaths of loyalists.

Gen Seare and Amhara governor Ambachew Mekonnen, who was also killed on Saturday, were seen as close allies of the prime minister.

A heavy contingent of pro-government forces has been deployed in Amhara’s capital, Bahir Dar, and the federal capital, Addis Ababa.

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

The US state department has warned its staff in Addis Ababa to stay inside.

Ethnic violence has hit Amhara and other parts of Ethiopia in recent years.

Since his election last year, Mr Abiy has transformed Ethiopia.

He has moved to end political repression by releasing political prisoners, removing bans on opposition political parties, overseeing the prosecution of officials accused of human rights abuses and has also restored diplomatic relations with Ethiopia’s long-time enemy, Eritrea.

But his reforms has taken on powerful interest groups in the military and the ruling coalition.

Mr Abiy survived a grenade attack at a rally a year ago on Sunday, which killed two people and left more than 100 injured.

Africa’s oldest independent country, Ethiopia is also the continent’s second most populous after Nigeria, with 102.5 million inhabitants from more than 80 different ethnic groups.

A transfer hub for long-haul air travel, it has one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, but a vast number of young Ethiopians are without work.

Brig-Gen Asaminew was Amhara’s regional security chief, and was said to have a significant following among young people.

He was among a group of high-ranking military officers released from prison early last year when the government moved to free political detainees in response to public pressure.

The general had been in custody for nine years for allegedly plotting a coup.

Brig-Gen Asaminew came from the Amhara ethnic group, the second largest in the country.

He had a reputation of being a hardline ethnic nationalist who wanted greater autonomy for the Amhara people.

His alleged bid for power in the region, therefore, did not come as a complete surprise.

Brig-Gen Asaminew openly advised the Amhara people this month to arm themselves, in a video spread via social media.

He was also known to have had a bad relationship with the Tigray regional government, which said that Gen Seare and another general, Gezae Abera, had been killed because they came from the minority Tigray ethnic group.

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