52 con­firmed dead in stam­pede at re­li­gious fes­ti­val in Ethiopia

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - NATION+WORLD -

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.

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