Scores killed in Ethiopia protests

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

ABOUT 50 peo­ple were shot dead by se­cu­rity forces in Ethiopia at the week­end in protests linked to an aborted gov­ern­ment at­tempt to com­man­deer lo­cal land, op­po­si­tion and diplo­matic sources said.

Po­lice fired tear gas and blocked roads to sev­eral towns in the vast Oro­mia re­gion as demon­stra­tions erupted after a call from a spon­ta­neous so­cial me­dia move­ment.

“We have reports of be­tween 48 to 50 pro­test­ers killed in Oro­mia. This death toll might be higher be­cause there were a lot of wounded,” said Mer­era Gu­d­ina, leader of the op­po­si­tion Oromo Peo­ple’s Congress.

A diplo­mat con­firmed that 49 peo­ple were killed. Among the towns worst hit by the vi­o­lence were Nekemte, a town in western Ethiopia where 15 peo­ple were killed, the diplo­mat said, while 27 died in Bahir Dar, the cap­i­tal of the Amhara re­gion.

“They ap­pear to be low level, quite dis­or­gan­ised protests scat­tered all around . . .,” the diplo­mat told the AFP news agency on con­di­tion of anonymity.

“The bru­tal re­sponse of the gov­ern­ment risks pro­vok­ing more anger and mak­ing it worse.”

Ethiopian au­thor­i­ties had im­posed a blan­ket in­ter­net block­ade over the week­end.

Oro­mia saw un­rest for sev­eral months un­til early this year, sparked by plans to al­lo­cate farm­land in the re­gion sur­round­ing the cap­i­tal for de­vel­op­ment.

Au­thor­i­ties scrapped the land scheme in Jan­uary, but protests have flared again over the con­tin­ued de­ten­tion of op­po­si­tion demon­stra­tors.

At the week­end, pro­test­ers chanted anti-gov­ern­ment slo­gans and waved dis­si­dent flags. Some de­manded the re­lease of jailed op­po­si­tion politi­cians.

The state-owned Ethiopian News Agency said “il­le­gal protests” staged by “anti-peace forces” had been brought un­der con­trol, but it did not men­tion ca­su­al­ties.

Oro­mia is the sec­ond re­gion to be hit by un­rest in the past few days. In Amhara re­gion, at least two peo­ple were killed in the an­cient city of Gon­der in clashes over the sta­tus of a dis­puted ter­ri­tory.

Ten­sions have been rum­bling for two decades over the sta­tus of Wolkayt district — a stretch of land that pro­test­ers from Amhara say was il­le­gally in­cor­po­rated into the neigh­bour­ing Tigray re­gion to the north. — AP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Zimbabwe

© PressReader. All rights reserved.