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US warned its citizens to avoid airport over protests

By Cyrus Ombati | March 10th 2019

The US Embassy in Ethiopia on Friday warned American citizens to avoid Bole International Airport, citing planned protests.

The embassy said there were plans to stage a protest in Meskel Square in Addis Ababa and the Oromia Region on Sunday.

“US Government travelers have been advised not to arrive or depart Bole International Airport on Sunday, March 10. US Embassy personnel are also temporarily prohibited from travelling to Oromia,” a warning on their website said.

The embassy later updated their alert on Saturday, saying US Government travellers could arrive or depart from Bole International Airport yesterday. 

Authorities are still investigating what caused the Nairobi-bound Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 to crash.

The site of the crash is a town is located 48km southeast of Addis Ababa along its Route Four highway.

The town was formerly known as Debre-Zeit, in Amharic, but since the late 1990s it has been officially known by the Oromo name of Bishoftu.

The statement said the embassy was aware of calls for a protest to be held at Meskel Square and added it was not known whether the protest had been or would be approved by Ethiopian authorities.

“US Embassy personnel are advised to avoid Meskel Square and limit movement around Addis Ababa on Sunday, March 10.”

It was not clear if the protest was linked to the crash.

Officials said the plane was still climbing and had only been airborne for a couple of minutes. The airline said there were 149 passengers and eight crew members on board.

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