|[Published: Monday June 24 2019]
Ethiopia 'coup ringleader on the run'
ADDIS ABABA 24 Jun (ANA) - The suspected ringleader of Saturday's failed coup plot in Ethiopia's Amhara region is on the run, a senior security official has told the BBC.
Four top officials, including the army chief, were killed while thwarting the coup, officials said.
Flags are flying at half-mast after the federal government declared a day of mourning to mark the deaths.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has urged Ethiopians to unite against "evil" forces set on dividing the country.
A heavy contingent of pro-government forces have been deployed in Amhara's capital, Bahir Dar, and the federal capital, Addis Ababa.
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 moved to end political repression by releasing political prisoners, removing bans on political parties and prosecuting officials accused of human rights abuses.
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.
Mr Abiy's office has accused Amhara's regional security chief, Brig-Gen Asaminew Tsige, of being behind the coup plot.
His whereabouts are unknown, and he is on the run, Amhara regional deputy head of security Gedebe Hailu told the BBC.
Brig-Gen Asaminew was among a group of high-ranking military officers released from prison early last year when the previous 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.
According to Reuters news agency, Amhara's top officials had convened a meeting on Saturday to discuss attempts by the general to recruit ethnic militias.
Brig-Gen Asaminew openly advised the Amhara people this month to arm themselves, in a video spread on Facebook and seen by a Reuters reporter.
The chief of staff of the Ethiopian army, Gen Seare Mekonnen, was killed on Saturday evening by his bodyguard, who is now in police custody, the prime minister's press office said.
He was at his residence along with another general, Gezai Abera, who was killed, it added.(ANA)
FA/ANA/24 June 2019--------