Ethiopian Commission Start Investigate Grenade Attack on Candidate’s Home

By Jason McLure

May 1 (Bloomberg) — The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission started a probe into a grenade attack on an opposition candidate’s home in a remote village in the north of the country, an investigator said.

The state-run body will release a report on the April 27 incident after about a week, investigator Mulugeta Netta said late yesterday by phone from the northern town of Axum.

No one was killed in the attack, said Ayale Beyene, a candidate for parliament for the Medrek opposition alliance, at his home in the nearby village of Wukro Oumaray.

Four members of the commission visited Ayale yesterday at his home in the country’s Tigray region, a hotbed of support for Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s ruling party.

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Ethiopian Human rights Commission
Ethiopian Human rights Commission

The probe comes amid rising tension ahead of Ethiopia’s May 23 election. Medrek leaders claim they are the victims of a widespread campaign of intimidation and harassment by government officials, police, and militia loyal to Meles.

Ayale, 28, said he was awoken during the night by the sound of something clattering off his stone hut’s tin roof, followed by a “devastating noise.” Ayale pointed to pieces of chipped stone and a damaged tree as evidence of the blast. He said a second grenade was left unexploded outside his hut.

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Shimeles Kemal, a spokesman for the Ethiopian government, said he was unaware of the incident when contacted on his mobile phone. Government and ruling party officials have in the past accused opposition leaders of fabricating human rights abuses so as to tarnish Ethiopia’s image.

At least 193 demonstrators were killed by security forces loyal to Meles in unrest following Ethiopia’s 2005 elections.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jason McLure in Addis Ababa at jmclure@bloomberg.net

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