Sat, May 13, 2006 - Page 6 News List

Ethiopian capital rocked by blasts


At least eight bombs exploded in Ethiopia's capital yesterday, killing three people and wounding 42, a police spokesman and witnesses said.

The bombs were concentrated on government buildings and public transportation, with no group claiming responsibility.

A police spokesman said the bombings were clearly coordinated by one organization, but he refused to name what group may have carried out the attacks.

Police have blamed other small bombings in recent months on alleged militant elements of the political opposition. But with no indication beyond police statements that they were politically motivated, the capital's residents have been left to speculate that they might be part of a government campaign to smear the opposition.

"We believe the main target of these bombings are the civilians and it is being done intentionally to give an impression that there is no peace or stability in Addis Ababa," Demsash said.

Four bombs exploded in the morning, another four exploded after midday. The bombs struck across the city, but four exploded in Addis Ababa's busy Mercato, the main shopping district.

One of the morning bombs exploded outside two cafes in the Mercato, killing two people and injuring seven -- five of them seriously, witnesses said. A third man was killed in the afternoon when a bomb destroyed the rear of a small bus, a reporter at the scene said.

Federal police spokesman Commander Demsash Hailu said 16 people were injured in that blast.

The first blast occurred at 4:50am in one of Addis Ababa's main plazas and damaged an Ethiopian Airlines office, but no one was injured.

The next three blasts occurred between 9:20am and 9:40am. One damaged the headquarters of the city's electricity company, injuring seven. The next blast blew out the front of a city bus, injuring seven, witnesses said. Then a bomb detonated outside the cafe.

The second afternoon blast destroyed a mini-bus taxi in front of a secondary school, witnesses said, but there were no immediate reports of casualties.

Two more bombs detonated near the bus station in the Mercato, one in a public toilet inside a hotel and the second outside of a barbershop. The hotel bombing injured three, the second one injured two, including the barber.

"We were taking our lunch and there was a small explosion," said the barber's pregnant wife, Alem Asfaw.

At the Amico Cafe in the Mercato, 15-year-old Bereket Betiwibid described seeing patrons knocked out of their chairs and two waitresses thrown across the verandah when the bomb exploded on the sidewalk outside.

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