Ethiopia Amhara ‘coup ringleader killed’

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Brig Gen Asaminew Tsige was killed as he attempted to escape from his hideout
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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.

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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 and overseeing the prosecution of officials accused of human rights abuses. He has also restored diplomatic relations with Ethiopia’s former long-time adversary, Eritrea.

But his reforms have 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.

Who is the coup leader?

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.

Why did the coup take place?

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

Gen Asaminew is a member of the Amhara, the country’s second largest ethic group.

He had a reputation for hardline ethnic nationalism and had previously called for the Amhara people to have greater autonomy.

Earlier this month, in a video on social media, he had also openly advised the Amhara to arm themselves.

Gen Asaminew had a bad relationship with the Tigray regional government as well.

The government claimed that Gen Seare and another general, Gezae Abera, had been killed because they came from the minority Tigray ethnic group.

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