The Dead Rise To 67 After Protests In The Ethiopian Region Of Oromia, According To AI

Nairobi, Oct. 26 (EFE) .- At least 67 people have died since last Wednesday in Ethiopia in different parts of the central region of Oromia, after anti-government protests acquired the character of inter-ethnic clashes, Amnesty International (AI) said today. .

"They are official figures from police sources, the highest authority in this regard," AI researcher Fisseha Tekle told Efe from the capital of Addis Ababa.

The regional police chief, Kefyalew Tefera, confirmed on Friday 67 dead, five of them agents and the rest civilians.

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This figure, however, could increase in the next few hours, according to Fisseha, because "in some areas the outbreaks of inter-ethnic violence continue and there are people seriously injured."

The protests, initially peaceful, began on the night of October 22 shortly after the well-known Ethiopian activist Jawar Mohammed gathered thousands of his supporters around his residence in Addis Ababa, after publicly hinting that the police intended to orchestrate an attack on he.

'Why did they try to remove my escorts in the middle of the night?' Jawar asked himself via Facebook, 'in the past, every time (the Government) made security changes the commanders called me or the person in charge of my escorts. to inform us. What has changed?'.

"The plan was to eliminate my security, unleash civilian attackers and justify that it was an attack from the crowd," the political activist described through the Facebook page of Oromia Media Network, an independent medium from which he is co-founder. .

The police forces denied that it was a plot, but they did confirm having requested the removal of their bodyguards after evaluating, according to them, as with other political figures, their need for private escorts.

As of this moment, young Oromo -the majority ethnicity of this country of more than 100 million people and to which both Jawar and the Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed belong- blocked roads in different parts of the region, as well as to the outskirts of Addis Ababa.

Jawar supporters, very critical of any of the policies adopted by Abiy in the last year, then clashed with crowds of people who took to the streets in defense of the prime minister; newly awarded Nobel Peace Prize 2019 for achieving peace with Eritrea.

'Inter-ethnic violence encompasses any direction. Oromos against no oromos; in Adama, for example, non-Muslims attacked a mosque while in Balerobe, mostly of an Omo and Muslim majority, the attacks were against other minorities, 'said Fisseha.

In addition, in several areas the security forces came to open fire on the protesters, so AI now asks the Ethiopian Government to investigate a possible excessive use of force.

'The military is securing conflict zones, but these deaths must be investigated. The leaders must be brought to justice and the truth of what happened revealed, if not the spiral of violence will continue, 'urged the investigator.

These confrontations, on which Abiy has not yet pronounced, demonstrate the great internal division between the Oromo ethnic group; on whose support the charismatic leader depends to win the next elections planned for May 2020. EFE

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