Thirty people have now been arrested, up from six from the day before, over alleged involvement in a grenade attack at a rally in the Ethiopian capital that killed two people and left more than 150 people wounded, police said on Sunday.
“The number of suspects in custody for involvement in the attack in Meskel Square has now reached 30,” Zeinu Jemal, head of the Federal Police Commission, told state-owned Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation. Zeinu did not give further details.
Health Minister Amir Aman confirmed on Sunday that two people had been killed in the explosion on Saturday and 156 wounded.
“I’m so sorry to learn that we have lost another Ethiopian victim of yesterday’s attack who was in ICU at Black Lion Hospital,” Aman said on Twitter. “My sincere sympathy and condolences to the family, friends and all Ethiopians.”
Update at 2:30 PM
Casualties seen = 156
Currently admitted =43
Critical = 6
Death = 2
— Amir Aman, MD (@amirabiy) June 24, 2018
Abiy had just wrapped up his speech at the capital’s Meskel Square before tens of thousands of people on Saturday when the explosion went off, sending droves of supporters towards the stage as the prime minister left hurriedly and was taken to safety.
Nine police officials, including the deputy head of the Addis Ababa police commission, have been arrested over alleged security lapses.
“Ethiopian police have confirmed that nine policemen have been arrested because of what they are calling gross negligence; for not putting enough security measures in place to make sure that such an incident did not occur,” according to news reports
Thirty other suspects are also being held over alleged involvement in the attack, but no group has claimed responsibility for the blast.
In an address broadcast on state television after the attack, Abiy said the blast was orchestrated by groups who wanted to undermine the rally but did not name them.
“The people who did this are anti-peace forces. You need to stop doing this. You weren’t successful in the past and you won’t be successful in the future.”
The blast has sent shockwaves across the country as the new prime minister, who enjoys a lot of political support, especially among the younger generation, seeks to enforce his reformist agenda.
Since assuming office in April, Abiy has introduced a number of reforms and has overseen the release of jailed dissidents and moved to liberalise the economy.
He has also made peace overtures with aggrieved opposition groups, as well as neighbouring Eritrea.