Ethiopia says forces behind grenade attack could strike again

ADDIS ABABA, June 27 (Reuters) - The forces behind Saturday's grenade attack at a rally in Ethiopia attended by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed could strike again, the government said on Wednesday, urging the public to remain vigilant at public gatherings.

Thirty arrests have been made since the incident on the weekend, which killed two people and injured scores more. However, it is not clear who planned the attack or what the motive might have been.

"There is suspicion that these forces whose bid was foiled may strike again in different parts of the country," said the head of Ethiopia's Government Communication Affairs Office, Ahmed Shide.

The attack came at a rally in support of Abiy's push for radical reforms. Since taking office in April, he has tried to open Ethiopia up to the outside world, after decades of security-obsessed isolation.

RELATED: 2 dead, more injured in grenade attack at Ethiopia political rally

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2 dead, more injured in grenade attack at Ethiopia political rally
A crowd of onlookers watch as a suspected bomber is escorted by Ethiopian police force personnel in Addis Ababa on June 23, 2018. - The organiser of a pro-government rally in Ethiopia that was hit by a grenade blast said the attacker had aimed for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed but was stopped by police. The attack injured 83 people, according to an aide to the prime minister, and marred an event aimed at building support for Abiy, who has pushed an aggressive reform agenda since taking office in April. (Photo by YONAS TADESSE / AFP) (Photo credit should read YONAS TADESSE/AFP/Getty Images)
Supporters of Ethiopia Prime Minister attend a rally on Meskel Square in Addis Ababa on June 23, 2018. - One person died and scores of others were hurt after a grenade blast at new Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's first mass rally in the capital that sent crowds fleeing in panic. Abiy had just wrapped up his speech before tens of thousands of people in the heart of Addis Ababa when the explosion went off, sending droves of supporters towards the stage as the prime minister left hurriedly, an AFP correspondent said. (Photo by YONAS TADESSE / AFP) (Photo credit should read YONAS TADESSE/AFP/Getty Images)
An Ethiopian man shouts as he holds a political banner in Amharic while joining others in Meskel Square in Addis Ababa on June 23, 2018, for a rally called by the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. - The organiser of a pro-government rally in Ethiopia that was hit by a grenade blast said the attacker had aimed for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed but was stopped by police. The attack injured 83 people, according to an aide to the prime minister, and marred an event aimed at building support for Abiy, who has pushed an aggressive reform agenda since taking office in April. (Photo by Yonas TADESSE / AFP) (Photo credit should read YONAS TADESSE/AFP/Getty Images)
Ethiopians gather around an ambulance in Meskel Square in Addis Ababa on June 23, 2018, after an attack on a rally called by the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. - The organiser of a pro-government rally in Ethiopia that was hit by a grenade blast said the attacker had aimed for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed but was stopped by police. The attack injured 83 people, according to an aide to the prime minister, and marred an event aimed at building support for Abiy, who has pushed an aggressive reform agenda since taking office in April. (Photo by Yonas TADESSE / AFP) (Photo credit should read YONAS TADESSE/AFP/Getty Images)
Ethiopians gather around an ambulance in Meskel Square in Addis Ababa on June 23, 2018, after an attack on a rally called by the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. - The organiser of a pro-government rally in Ethiopia that was hit by a grenade blast said the attacker had aimed for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed but was stopped by police. The attack injured 83 people, according to an aide to the prime minister, and marred an event aimed at building support for Abiy, who has pushed an aggressive reform agenda since taking office in April. (Photo by Yonas TADESSE / AFP) (Photo credit should read YONAS TADESSE/AFP/Getty Images)
An Ethiopian flag is carried by the crowd in Meskel Square in Addis Ababa on June 23, 2018, for a rally called by the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. - The organiser of a pro-government rally in Ethiopia that was hit by a grenade blast said the attacker had aimed for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed but was stopped by police. The attack injured 83 people, according to an aide to the prime minister, and marred an event aimed at building support for Abiy, who has pushed an aggressive reform agenda since taking office in April. (Photo by Yonas TADESSE / AFP) (Photo credit should read YONAS TADESSE/AFP/Getty Images)
Ethiopians attend a rally in support of the new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia June 23, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer
Ethiopians attend a rally in support of the new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia June 23, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer
Ethiopians attend a rally in support of the new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia June 23, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer
Ethiopians attend a rally in support of the new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia June 23, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer
Ethiopians carry their national flag during a rally in support of the new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia June 23, 2018. REUTERS/Maheder Haileselassie
Ethiopians chant slogans on the podium during a rally in support of the new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia June 23, 2018. REUTERS/Maheder Haileselassie
Ethiopians react after an explosion during a rally in support of the new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia June 23, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer
Ethiopians react after an explosion during a rally in support of the new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia June 23, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer
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2 dead, more injured in grenade attack at Ethiopia political rally

That includes a surprise push to end his country's conflict with Eritrea, one of Africa's most intractable stand-offs .

The government's warning also came amid several bouts of violence that have taken place in remote areas of the country.

In the western Benishangul-Gumuz region, residents in its capital Assosa told Reuters that sporadic gunfire was heard on Wednesday and that shops and schools remain closed.

One person has so far died in violence that erupted on Monday, while 30 more people suspected of instigating the violence were in custody according to the state-owned Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation. The cause of the unrest is not clear.

On Tuesday, Abiy appointed a new police commissioner and a deputy in Addis Ababa, the state-affiliated Fana agency said, the latter replacing an official who is in custody on charges relating to a security lapse over Saturday's attack. (Editing by Costas Pitas, Larry King)

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