Dozens injured after blast hits rally attended by Ethiopian leader

Posted at 12:14 PM, Jun 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-23 14:14:25-04

By Hilary Clarke and Mohammed Tawfeeq, CNN

Dozens were injured, and at least one person killed, in an explosion Saturday at a rally in Addis Ababa attended by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, officials said.

In footage from Ethiopian state TV, bodyguards rush Ahmed unharmed off the stage where he had been sitting after the blast.

Ten people are in critical condition, Ethiopian Health Minister Amir Aman said on Twitter.

Aman added that 156 people needed medical attention and that 51 of them remain hospitalized.

“Thank you all those who volunteered to donate blood for victims of the incidence,” Aman wrote on Twitter. “Currently there is no shortage of blood. Please keep up the good work. That’s what defines being Ethiopian.”

Solomon Ali of the Ethiopian Red Cross Society said it was difficult to move the wounded from the blast site because thousands of people were at the rally.

The explosion occurred after Ahmed had finished giving a speech before thousands of supporters in the Ethiopian capital’s Meskel Square.

It’s too early to know if the deadly blast was an assassination attempt on the new Prime Minister, Ethiopia’s minister of government communications said.

Minister and spokesman Ahmed Shide said a government investigation is underway and any findings will be made public.

The 41-year-old Ahmed was sworn in as Prime Minister in April on a platform to unite Ethiopians and improve relations with neighboring Eritrea.

Last week, he announced he was allowing access to 264 websites blocked under the previous regime.