More than 50 people have been arrested after an alleged coup attempt in an Ethiopian region, an opposition party says. National Movement of the Amhara (NaMA), said dozens of its supporters had been arrested. Police said earlier that several suspects were being questioned in the state where the alleged coup happened. The arrests follow the killing of the army chief, who was reportedly killed by his bodyguard in the coup attempt. The BBC’s Kalkidan Yibeltal in Addis Ababa says NaMA is an ethno-nationalist party essentially campaigning to advance the interests of the Amhara people, Ethiopia’s second largest ethnic group. As well as army chief Gen Seare Mekonnen, four other officials died as a result of the violence and funerals were held on Wednesday. The alleged ringleader of the coup, Brig Gen Asaminew Tsige, was shot dead on Monday, police said.
Asaminew was a member of the party ruling Amhara region, the Amhara Democratic Party (ADP), a member of the ruling coalition Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). 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, Asaminew had also openly advised the Amhara to arm themselves. There has been an increase in ethnic tensions and violence since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power last year and introduced democratic reforms. The arrest of dozens of opposition supporters happened in the capital, Addis Ababa, NaMa said. “The campaign of arrests against NaMa members and sympathisers isn’t just directed against a party, but is also an identity-based attack,” spokesperson Christian Tadele told AFP.The internet was shut down across the country but has now been partially restored.