Ethiopian Airlines Group Management and Employees wish to express their deep sorrow and profound sadness over the cowardly and violent act perpetrated on Saturday, 23 June 2018 during the peaceful rally held at Meskel Square in Addis Ababa, which led to the loss of life and injury of innocent people.
We fully support the new initiatives of our new Government and we stand together in unity with our people. The Management and Employees convey their condolences to the families of the bereaved and the injured. The National Airline stands on their side in this moment of tragedy.
Tens of thousands of people descended in Addis Ababa’s Meskel square on Saturday morning in a massive show of support for Abiy Ahmed, the new, reformist prime minister of Ethiopia.
Dressed in colorful attire displaying Abiy’s image and carrying signs with slogans such as “One Love, One Ethiopia”, the diverse crowd cheered on as the 41-year-old prime minister repeated his message of unity in a country rocked by violent unrest in recent years.
Shortly after Abiy wrapped up his speech, an explosion went off among the demonstrators.
Health Minister Amir Aman said one person was killed and 154 were wounded, with 10 of them in critical condition.
The deputy commissioner of the Addis Ababa Police Commission has been arrested over shortcomings in security after a grenade attack in the Ethiopian capital killed one person and left more than 100 wounded, according to state-run TV.
“Nine individuals, including the Deputy Commissioner of the Addis Ababa Police Commission, are in custody and under investigation over shortcomings” in security, the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation said
The attack was launched by an unidentified assailant moments after the 41-year-old prime minister, a former soldier who took office in April, finished his speech to tens of thousands of people gathered in the centre of Addis Ababa.
A witness saw Mr Abiy whisked away by guards. Another witness told Reuters the assailant with the grenade had been wrestled to the ground by police before it exploded.
Abiy, who has announced a series of major reforms since taking office in April, was hurriedly escorted out of the rally as his supporters tried to come to terms with what had just happened.
“The people who did this are anti-peace forces,” Abiy said in an address broadcast afterward on state television.
“You need to stop doing this. You weren’t successful in the past and you won’t be successful in the future.”
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the explosion. Later on Saturday, police said six people were being investigated for the attack.
The blast sent shockwaves across Ethiopia, a country at a critical juncture in its political history as it seeks to emerge from a tumultuous period of instability.