Ethiopia's foreign ministry says authorities have pardoned nearly 18,000 prisoners to mark the occasion of the country's third millennium.
In a statement Friday the ministry says the federal and regional governments pardoned 17,765 prisoners after reviewing recommendations made by national and regional pardon boards.
It said the pardons were issued September 11, on the eve of the nation's new year and millennium celebration.
Ethiopia celebrated the new millennium on September 12 - seven years after the rest of most of the world. Ethiopia follows the Julian calendar, instead of the more common Gregorian calendar.
It is not the first time the nation has issued pardons at the new year. Last year, at this time, Ethiopia pardoned more than 14,000 prisoners.
The ministry suggested more pardons could be coming, saying that the pardon boards in the Afar and Somali regions are still examining applications.