Explosion hits Ethiopia PM rally

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

Ethiopians react after an explosion during a rally in support of the new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia June 23, 2018.

"In recent past days, we have been receiving reports claiming that Somalia signed an agreement with Ethiopia".

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.

The PM affirmed that government will never accept any deal violating the country's sovereignty. He did not lay blame but said police were investigating.

A small blast sparked panic at public rally for Ethiopia's new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed attended by tens of thousands of people.

Mr Abiy has been causing waves after 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. Killing others is a defeat. "Someone tried to hurl it to the stage where the prime minister was", Seyoum Teshome, a member of the organizing committee, told Reuters.

The crowd not only packed the entirety of the Meskel Square, ETV journalists who were on the scene stated that the roads were blocked by people waving flags and wearing t-shirts bearing Abiy Ahmed's image for up to a kilometer.

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"Someone was trying to throw the grenade and then another person touched his hand so he missed the target and the grenade fell without reaching the stage", he said, adding that three suspects had been arrested.

Abiy had promised in his rally speech to bring more transparency to government and reconciliation to a nation torn by years of protests.

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 described it as an "unsuccessful attempt by forces who do not want to see Ethiopia united".

The United States has been among those in the global community expressing support for the dramatic changes in Ethiopia, a key security ally in a turbulent region with neighbours including Somalia and South Sudan.

Mr Tsege recently told the BBC that his release came after Prime Minister Abiy had threatened to resign.

Abiy took office after his predecessor, Hailemariam Desalegn, resigned following protests that erupted in 2015 in the nation of 100 million people.

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