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Eritrea Returns to Calm After Mutiny

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Eritrea map
Eritrea map
VOA News
Calm has reportedly returned to the east African nation of Eritrea a day after a group of mutinous soldiers attempted to take over the country's information ministry.

More than 100 dissident soldiers stormed the ministry in Asmara early Monday, ordering state television announcers to read a statement calling for the release of political prisoners and saying the 1997 constitution would be respected.

It is unclear how the situation was resolved, but the soldiers are believed to have left the ministry by late Monday.

In a message posted on Twitter Tuesday, the director of the Eritrean president's office, Yemane Ghebremeskel, said "all is calm today as it was yesterday."

Diplomats and residents say the situation in the capital is quiet with no military presence seen on the streets.

The U.S.-based Eritrean opposition website, Awate.com, says the mutiny was led by a prominent military commander, named Saleh Osman, in an attempt to restart stalled negotiations for the country's democratization.

President Isaias Afewerki has ruled Eritrea since 1993. His government has kept tight control on the country, allowing little dissent and no independent media.

The government is believed to hold thousands of political prisoners, including journalists and officials who questioned the president's leadership.

The United Nations human rights office has said the country of about six million people holds between 5,000 and 10,000 political prisoners.
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