Ethiopia said on Saturday there was an coup attempt against the head of the country’s Amhara state but that it had failed.
“There was an organised coup attempt in Bahir Dar but failed,” Negussu Tilahun, spokesman for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed told state TV on Saturday, referring to the regional capital.
He said efforts were underway to apprehend the coup plotters who he said attempted to oust Ambachew Mekonnen, the regional government head in Amhara, north of Addis Ababa.
A resident of Bahir Dar said gunfire had erupted in the town around 6:30 pm local time (3:30 GMT) and fighting was continuing.
“There is a gunfire…roads to the area where we are hearing the gunfire are closed,” said the resident, who did not want to be named for fear being targeted.
The development underscored continuing instability in parts of the Horn of African country where the reformist prime minister is trying to restore peace to restive regions – including Amhara and Oromia – after three years of protests.
After years of a security-obsessed isolation and political repression, Ethiopia has undergone wide transformation under Abiy who released political prisoners, reinstated relations with arch foe Eritrea and is moving to open up the economy.