ADDIS ABABA – Oromia police have arrested 503 people who were allegedly plotting to cause violence during an annual thanksgiving festival this weekend.
Oromia region police commissioner Ararsa Merdasa said on Thursday officers seized 103 guns, 14 AK-47 rifles and 26 hand grenades during the arrests.
The arrest was made ahead of a celebration in Addis Ababa on Saturday and in Bishoftu on Sunday.
Last year’s Irreecha festival was held peacefully amid tight security.
But in 2016, a stampede, triggered by a clash between police and protesters, at the celebrations in Bishoftu left more than 50 dead.
Meanwhile, Ethiopia’s intelligence service said it had foiled what the agency said were plans to incite violence Oromia zone of Amhara region.
A group led by a man named as Idris Iyassu Mohammed were working to cause disturbances in other parts of the country as well, said the intelligence agency.
It said 10 AK-47 rifles along with 280 bullets were seized on September 26 in Haik town, South Wollo zone, being transported from the city of Mekelle to Bati town.
The office accused OLF-Shene, security bureau head of Tigray regional state, Tekiu Mitku, and some members of TPLF for orchestrating the failed attempt to carry out the attacks.