By Toby Prince
The chief of staff of the Ethiopian Army and at least three other senior officials have been killed in different parts of the country amid a coup attempt by an army general in the northern state of Amhara, state television said on Sunday.
A spokesman for Ethiopia’s prime minister told The Associated Press that the army chief, Gen. Seare Mekonnen, had been shot dead at his residence in the capital, Addis Ababa, by his bodyguard. He said a retired army general visiting the army chief at the time had also been killed in the same attack late on Saturday.
The spokesman, Nigussu Tilahun, said the attacks in Addis Ababa and in Bahir Dar, the capital of Amhara, were linked.
Amhara’s state president, Ambachew Mekonnen, and his adviser, Gize Abera, were also killed in the region, according to state media, which said the coup attempt had been orchestrated by the region’s head of security, Gen. Asamnew Tsige.
“He was shot by people who are close to him,” Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said in a televised address on Saturday of Mr. Ambachew.
Regional government officials had been in a meeting to discuss how to rein in the open recruitment of ethnic militias by General Asamnew when the coup attempt began, officials said.
A week earlier, General Asamnew had openly advised the Amhara people, one of Ethiopia’s larger ethnic groups, to arm themselves, in a video spread on Facebook.
Residents in Amhara’s capital, Bahir Dar, said late Saturday that they could hear gunfire in some neighborhoods and that some roads had been closed off.