Nearly 250 people have been arrested in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa and the city of Bahir Dar since a coup attempt was foiled, the state-run Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation reported on Thursday.
The state broadcaster did not give any more details on who was arrested or when. But a party based in the northern region – the National Movement of Amhara (NAMA) – earlier said 56 of its members had been detained in Addis Ababa on Wednesday.
Ethiopia has been on edge since twin attacks at the weekend in Addis Ababa and the city of Bahir Dar killed the army chief of staff, the region’s president and three other senior officials.
Ethiopia government says rebellion quashed after arrests made
The violence, which the government says was part of a plot by a rogue general and his militia to take over Amhara, exposed how ethnic tensions are threatening the reform agenda of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
Ethiopia’s 42-year-old prime minister has won praise abroad for opening up one of the continent’s most closed nations, but analysts say the rapid changes have fuelled uncertainty and insecurity.
As a result, ethnocentric parties like NAMA are gaining increasing support and their rhetoric is stoking serious interethnic violence, global think-tank Crisis Group said this week in a briefing note.
Since its founding last year, NAMA has emerged as a rival to the Amhara party in the ruling coalition, which has held power in Ethiopia since 1991. NAMA has condemned the weekend violence and denies any link to it.
Party spokesman Christian Tadele told Reuters he had also received reports of arrests of Amhara people in four towns in the Oromia region. These, and the arrests of the party members, “were perpetrated against the Amharas because of their identity,” he said. He did not elaborate..