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Ethiopian coup leader killed in gunfight

by Onize Ohikere
Posted 6/25/19, 11:13 am

The Ethiopian army general accused of staging a failed coup attempt in the northern region of the country over the weekend died Monday in a shootout with security forces, according to government officials. Brig. Gen. Asamnew Tsige was shot dead on the outskirts of Bahir Dar, capital of the northern Amhara region, said Nigussu Tilahun, a spokesman with the prime minister’s office. Authorities also detained four senior officials in Amhara and about 178 other people for participating in the uprising. Some soldiers loyal to Tsige on Saturday stormed into a meeting in Amhara, where they killed the governor and his adviser, Nigussu said. The region’s attorney general also died from his wounds on Monday.

In a separate but linked attack in the capital, Addis Ababa, a bodyguard assassinated army chief of staff Seare Mekonnen and a retired general. Ethiopian Prime Minister Ahmed Abiy Ahmed sobbed openly at Mekonnen’s funeral Tuesday, and deputy army chief Birhanu Jelan said at the service that security forces would fight to maintain unity in the country.

Local news outlets said Tsige used social media to incite a rebellion in the northern region. Abiy pardoned Tsige last year as he served a jail sentence for a similar coup attempt during the previous administration. Abiy introduced economic and political reforms when he came into power last year, including reshuffling the military and intelligence services. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Tibor Nagy said Abiy’s reforms probably prompted the coup attempt. “There are vestiges of the old regime in power,” Nagy said Sunday in South Africa. “Some of the elites are very unhappy with some of the reforms that … Abiy is taking for a variety of reasons including, I’m sure, some ill-gotten gains.”

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Onize Ohikere

Onize is WORLD's Africa reporter. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and earned a journalism degree from Minnesota State University-Moorhead. Onize resides in Abuja, Nigeria. Follow her on Twitter @onize_ohiks.

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