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Ethiopia arrests former deputy spy chief Yared Zerihun

Ethiopia’s former deputy intelligence chief has been arrested amid investigations into corruption and human rights abuses committed by the security forces.

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has passed a string of reforms since coming to power in April
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has passed a string of reforms since coming to power in April

Yared Zerihun, the former deputy head of the national security agency, is one of more than 60 intelligence and military figures arrested since Monday.

Mr Yared has not yet commented on the allegations.

The move has been widely welcomed by human rights groups.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed promised a strong line on corruption and human rights abuses when he came to power in April this year and has passed a string of reforms, including ending a two-decade conflict with neighbouring Eritrea.

Why has he been arrested?

It is not clear and he has not yet been charged.

However, Attorney General Berhanu Tsegaye has accused “the senior leadership of the national security agency” of involvement in a grenade attack at a rally attended by the prime minister in June, in which two people were killed.

However, he declined to name a suspect.

Who else has been arrested?

So far this week, 27 people have been detained over alleged crimes committed at the Metals and Engineering Corporation (Metec), Ethiopia’s military-run conglomerate – including its former head, who was arrested as he tried to flee the country.

According to state-affiliated television Fana Broadcasting, police have also arrested the head of the security division at state-owned Ethio Telecom network.

Why now?

On Monday, the attorney general announced that a five-month investigation into Metec had uncovered vast corruption.

Ethiopian state media then broadcast a documentary alleging that the conglomerate had been involved in illegal arms smuggling, including to Somalia.

BBC Africa Security Correspondent Tomi Oladipo says this week’s arrests continues Mr Abiy’s pattern of reforms since he took office in April this year.

In August, Metec’s contract to build a major new dam on the River Nile was revoked and handed to foreign companies.

Prime Minister Abiy also replaced a number of senior military figures in June.

Last month, a group of several hundred soldiers, some armed, went to see the prime minister – reportedly to demand a pay rise.

The situation was defused, with pictures released showing him doing press upswith some of them.

However, he later suggested that some had been trying to kill him. BBC