52 confirmed dead in stampede at religious festival in Ethiopia
Dozens of people were crushed to death Sunday in a stampede after police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse an anti-government protest in Ethiopia that grew out of a massive religious festival, witnesses said. The Oromia regional government confirmed the death toll at 52.
“I almost died in that place today,” said one shaken protester who gave his name only as Elias. Mud-covered and shoeless, he said he had been dragged out of a deep ditch that many people fell into as they tried to flee.
The stampede occurred in one of the East African country’s most politically sensitive regions, Oromia, which has seen months of sometimes deadly demonstrations demanding wider freedoms.
An estimated 2 million people were attending the annual Irrecha thanksgiving festival in the town of Bishoftu, southeast of the capital, Addis Ababa, when people began chanting slogans against the government, according to witnesses.