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Blasts in Ethiopia capital kill one, injure several

Written by: Staff
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ADDIS ABABA, Mar 27 (Reuters) A series of blasts killed one person and injured several others in Addis Ababa today, the first fatality in a string of mysterious explosions in the Ethiopian capital.

One person was killed and three others injured when the first blast ripped through a minibus in the southern part of the city.

Over the next six hours in different parts of Addis Ababa, explosions went off in a small cafe, a guard shack and at an abattoir.

An employee in the cafe said the explosion there injured 10 people and ambulances could be seen leaving for the hospital.

Police who had cordoned off the area around the cafe, littered with broken glass, had no immediate comment.

The fourth explosion, in the busy Mercato trading district, tore the tin roof off a guard shack near some warehouses. A sidewalk vendor was seriously injured, witnesses said.

A Reuters reporter at the scene of the bus explosion said the rear of the 11-seat vehicle was torn apart by the blast.

The bus owner, Berhanu Gebremichael, told Reuters: ''One person was killed in the explosion. Three others were injured slightly and they are in hospital for treatment''.

It was the first death in a wave of attacks that began in January with minor blasts targeting public buildings and hotels.

Although grenade attacks to settle scores are relatively common in Ethiopia, the unexplained blasts have boosted tension in Addis, which was shaken by two bouts of unrest in the wake of disputed parliamentary elections last May.

At least 80 people were killed in clashes between police and opposition demonstrators in June and November.

On March 7 this year, three separate explosions injured at least four people at a restaurant, a market and outside a school.

Ethiopia's government said the plastic explosives used in those blasts were smuggled from neighbouring Eritrea and used by what it called Eritrean-backed ''terrorists''.

Eritrea, which has been locked in a dispute with Ethiopia over their border since a 1998-2000 war that killed 70,000 people, ridiculed the charges.

The Ethiopian government has also accused the chief opposition coalition of trying to plan such attacks, and has blamed explosions in the past on Oromo Liberation Forces rebels.

The group has fought for the independence of the southern Oromo region since 1993.

REUTERS SY PC1941

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