The Latest: 1st confirmed death after Ethiopia rally blast

The Latest: 1st confirmed death after Ethiopia rally blast
The Associated Press

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — The Latest on rally for Ethiopia’s reformist new prime minister (all times local):

2:55 p.m.

Ethiopia’s health minister says one person has died after an explosion at a huge rally for the country’s new prime minister.

Health Minister Amir Aman confirms to The Associated Press that the person died in a hospital after the attack. It is the first confirmed death; Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in an address to the nation shortly after the blast said “a few people” had died, but police later reported no deaths.

Reports of the number of people injured vary. Police have said more than 100, while Abiy’s chief of staff cites reports from police and hospitals in saying 83 people were hurt, with six in critical condition.

Tens of thousands of people had gathered in Addis Ababa’s Meskel Square in an enthusiastic show of support for a wave of reforms since Abiy took office in April.

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1:30 p.m.

A witness near the scene of a deadly blast at a huge rally for Ethiopia’s new prime minister says the man who tried to throw the grenade was wearing a police uniform.

Abraham Tilahun tells The Associated Press that other police officers restrained the man from throwing the grenade as Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was waving to the crowd of tens of thousands.

“Then we heard the explosion,” Abraham says. “I’m sure those who died there were also policemen who tried to prevent the attacker.”

The prime minister in an address to the country shortly after being hurried to safety said “a few people” had been killed and others injured.

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12:15 p.m.

An organizer of the huge rally for Ethiopia’s prime minister where a deadly explosion occurred says someone in the crowd had tried to throw a grenade at the stage.

“The prime minster was the target,” Seyoum Teshome tells The Associated Press. “An individual tried to hurl the grenade toward a stage where the prime minister was sitting but was held back by the crowd.”

Seyoum says three suspects, two men and a woman, were immediately arrested.

Minutes after being swept to safety, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed told the nation that “a few people” had been killed and others injured. He called the blast a “well-orchestrated attack” that failed.

The blast occurred shortly after Abiy addressed the tens of thousands of people who had gathered in support of the sweeping reforms since he took office in April.

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11:20 a.m.

Ethiopia’s reformist new prime minister is calling the deadly explosion that disrupted a huge rally of supporters a “well-orchestrated attack” but one that failed.

A grim-faced Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in an address to the nation shortly after the blast says “a few people” were killed and others injured. The attack occurred as he was waving to the crowd of tens of thousands.

Abiy has not blamed anyone for the blast that he calls “cheap and unacceptable.” Police are investigating.

The prime minister adds: “Love always wins. Killing others is a defeat. To those who tried to divide us, I want to tell you that you have not succeeded.”

Ethiopians heartened by a wave of reforms under Abiy had packed Meskel Square in a show of support with numbers unseen in recent years in the East African nation.

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11:10 a.m.

Ethiopia’s reformist new prime minister says “a few people have lost their lives” and others have been injured in the explosion that went off shortly after he spoke to a huge rally of supporters in the capital, Addis Ababa.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is addressing the nation as police investigate the blast that occurred just after he finished speaking and was waving to the crowd of tens of thousands.

An Associated Press reporter has seen more than a dozen injured people.

Ethiopians heartened by a wave of reforms under Abiy had packed Meskel Square in a show of support with numbers unseen in recent years in the East African nation.

The rally has now broken up with people singing, chanting and going back to their homes.

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10:45 a.m.

Ethiopia’s reformist new prime minister is expected to address the nation shortly after an explosion disrupted a huge rally where he had been addressing supporters.

An Associated Press reporter has seen more than a dozen injured people. Footage showed Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed being rushed from the scene by security guards.

One organizer of the rally, Seyoum Teshome, says on Facebook that “Prime Minister Abiy and other guests who came in attendance are all fine.”

The blast occurred just after Abiy finished his address and was waving to the crowd of tens of thousands in a packed square in the capital, Addis Ababa.

The state broadcaster quickly cut away from coverage of the rally, which has broken up with people singing, chanting and going back to their homes.

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10:10 a.m.

An explosion has disrupted a large rally by supporters of Ethiopia’s new, reformist prime minister, with the state broadcaster reporting that a few people have been injured.

Ambulances are at the scene in packed Meskel Square in the capital, Addis Ababa, where Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has been addressing thousands of supporters.

The explosion occurred shortly after Abiy finished speaking and was waving to the crowd.

The 42-year-old Abiy took office in April and quickly surprised Africa’s second most populous country by announcing a wave of political and economic reforms.

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9:45 a.m.

Ethiopians heartened by a wave of reforms under a new prime minister have packed a square in the capital in a show of support with numbers unseen in recent years in the East African nation.

In a cowboy hat and T-shirt, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is addressing the crowd in Addis Ababa’s Meskel Square as supporters wear clothes displaying his image and carry signs saying “One Love, One Ethiopia.”

The 42-year-old Abiy took office in April and quickly surprised Africa’s second most populous country by announcing the release of tens of thousands of prisoners, the opening of state-owned companies to private investment and the unconditional embrace of a peace deal with rival Eritrea.

The United States is among those expressing support for the changes in a key security ally.

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