Deaths reported after explosion in Ethiopia capital

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has won praise for ambitious reforms he has unveiled in less than three months in office

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has won praise for ambitious reforms he has unveiled in less than three months in office

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.

As well as promising economic reforms, Abiy stunned Ethiopians this month by saying he was ready to fully implement a peace deal with Eritrea that was signed in 2000 after a two-year war.

Eritrea, the country that has been hosting anti-TPLF rebel groups, announced today that it is sending delegation to Ethiopia to figure out next step for the peace talk proposed by prime minister Abiy Ahmed's government.

Separately, Abiy's chief of staff Fitsum Arega announced on Twitter Friday that internet censors would allow access to 264 websites that had previously been inaccessible in the country including OMN.

The prime minister recently called for all armed groups to lay down their arms and return to the country.

After the blast, dozens of people stormed the stage, hurling various objects at police, shouting: "Woyane down, down", and "Woyane thief", using a pejorative nickname for the government, the AFP correspondent said. He called the blast a "well-orchestrated attack" that failed.

Several people were killed Saturday in a blast at new Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's first rally in the capital attended by tens of thousands of people, state media reported.

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In another of Abiy's major policy shifts, the prime minister has said Ethiopia would open its state-run telecoms monopoly and state-owned Ethiopian Airlines [ETHA.UL] to private domestic and foreign investment, both moves would loosen the state's grip.

Isaias and Abiy "have demonstrated courageous leadership by taking these steps toward peace", the White House said in a statement.

"I saw some five people injured following the blast", he added.

Mr Abiy described the incident as "an unsuccessful attempt by forces who do not want to see Ethiopia united".

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.

"Ethiopia will be on top again, and the foundations will be love, unity and inclusivity", he declared, drressed in a green T-shirt and a hat.

The rally was being held in support of the 41-year-old leader, who took office in April.

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