PICS: Bomb Attack on Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed

4 million rally for abiy ahmed

Hundreds Wounded in Gernade Attack on Ethiopia's PM Abiy Ahmed

A rally with about a million people in attendance was showing their support for the new Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his progressive reforms.

The theme of the rally was one of love and support with millions of jubilant faces.

But things turned dark and ugly when unknown assailants hurled a grenade towards the Prime Ministers direction.

He was thankfully unhurt and whisked away.

Unfortunately, 2 people died and 156 people were wounded with 5 in critical condition.

In a touching moment that illustrates the mood of the people perfectly, a man just exiting from having his wounds treated at Black Lion Hospital uttered his first words saying: "please protect Abiy".

abiy ahmed at hospital

The Prime Minister was at the hospital visiting the wounded.

abiy ahmed visiting bomb victims

A senior police official, as well as others in his staff were arrested over their handling of the rally's security.

police attempt at crowd control

The Ethiopian leader is a 42 year old former army officer and cabinet minister who is now the first prime minister of Ethiopia from the Oromo ethnic group.

It is believed that his new and radical reforms are responsible for the bomb attack on the rally.

According to reports from officials, FBI investigators will assist Ethiopia to probe the grenade attack.

According to Al Jazeera's Dereje Berhanu who witnessed the attack while attending the rally:

An explosion has killed several people at a large rally by supporters of Ethiopia's new, reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in the capital, Addis Ababa.

In a televised address shortly after Saturday's blast, Abiy said "a few people" were killed in the what he called a "well-orchestrated attack", offering his condolences to families of the victims.

Fitsum Arega, the prime minister's chief of staff, said on Twitter that unidentified assailants launched a grenade attack at the rally.

"Some whose heart is filled with hate attempted a grenade attack. HE PM Abiy is safe.

All the casualties are martyrs of love & peace. HE PM sends his condolences to the victims. The perpetrators will be brought to justice," Arega said.

Al Jazeera's Dereje Berhanu witnessed the attack while attending the rally.

"I was in front of the stage when the blast occurred to my right. We rush to that direction to see what happened and I saw people seriously wounded and blood all around that area," Dereje reported.

"Police said more than 100 people were wounded and 15 of them were admitted to hospital with serious injuries," he added.

Footage of the rally showed Abiy being rushed from the scene by security guards.

The state broadcaster quickly cut away from coverage of the rally, which has broken up with people singing, chanting and going back to their homes.

Ambulances were at the scene in the crowded Meskel Square in Addis Ababa where the prime minister had been addressing thousands of supporters.

In a hat and T-shirt, Abiy addressed the crowd as supporters wore clothes displaying his image and carry signs saying "One Love, One Ethiopia".

The explosion occurred shortly after Abiy finished speaking and was waving to the crowd.

Ethiopians had packed the square in a show of support for Abiy's reformist agenda, with numbers unseen in recent years in the East African nation.

As part of the promised reforms, Abiy has announced 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.

security forces at abiy ahmed support rally

According to Daily Star:

The blast, thought to be from a grenade, was heard at a rally in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa on Saturday following a speech from the country's new leader Abiy Ahmed.

Speaking in a TV address after the incident Mr Ahmed said "a few people" had been killed and others had been injured.

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

Witness Seyoum Teshome, a member of the organising committee, told local media: "It was a grenade. Someone tried to hurl it to the stage where the prime minister was in."

Mr Ahmed was taken away by security personnel immediately after his speech.

Ethiopia has been riven by years of sometimes violent protests.

Mr Abiy only became prime minister after his predecessor Hailemariam Desalegn unexpectedly resigned in February.

He is the country's first leader from the ethnic Oromo group, which has been at the centre of nearly three years of anti-government protests that have left hundreds of people dead.