Seare Mekonnen, chief of staff of the Ethiopian army, has been shot dead alongside Ambachew Mekonnen, regional governor of Amhara, amid a reported coup attempt in the northern region.
Reuters reports that the two were killed in separate attacks after a general tried to seize control of power in Amhara.
The army chief and another retired general were reportedly shot dead by the former’s bodyguard during a meeting in his official’s home in Addis Ababa.
Seare was shot dead alongside his adviser in Bahir Dar, Amhara’s capital, on Saturday evening, according to a statement from the office of Abiy Ahmed, the prime minister.
Billene Seyoum, the PM’s spokesman, was quoted as telling journalists a “hit squad” led by Asaminew Tsige, Amhara’s security chief, invaded a meeting where the governor was and shot him dead.
“Several hours later in what seems like a coordinated attack, the chief of the staff of the national security forces Seare Mekonnen was killed in his home by his bodyguard in Addis Ababa,” Seyoum was quoted to have said.
The bodyguard is said to have been apprehended while Asaminew is still on the loose.
Aljazeera also reports that “the army intelligence general said the coup was meant to create chaos and division in the military. He said the military now has control over the situation … and he reiterated that there are no divisions within the military.
“This is particularly important because the two generals that were killed in Addis Ababa are part of the Tigre ethnic group, and the person who we believe is responsible for the coup plot is part of the Amhara group.”
In a TV broadcast shortly after the incident, the PM urged Ethiopians to unite in the face of “evil forces” set on dividing the country.
Ethnic violence has been on the rise in Amhara and other parts of Ethiopia in recent years.
The prime minister’s shake-up of the military is said to have earned him “powerful enemies”, while his government is struggling to contain the ethnic violence.