Five killed in Ethiopia protest


At least five people were killed in Ethiopia’s restive Oromiya region after police opened fire during a protest, witnesses said.

Protesters blocked the main road in Ambo, west of Addis Ababa, to demonstrate against sugar shortages, before police arrived to disperse the crowd.
“They police then fired live rounds. We know of … five people who died from gunshot wounds,” one protester told Reuters. Another witness said he saw up to 10 wounded people taken to hospital.

The regional government spokesman confirmed deaths had occurred, but did not give details.
“Demonstrations happening in Ambo have resulted in death and injuries,” Addisu Arega Kitessa said in a Facebook statement, adding they were organised by “enemies” of the region.

The province was wracked by protests for months in 2015 and 2016.

Nearly 700 people were killed last year in a bout of unrest provoked by plans to implement a development scheme for Addis Ababa opponents said amounted to a land grab, according to a parliament-mandated investigation.

Broader anti-government demonstrations over politics and human rights abuse followed, forcing government to impose a nine-month state of emergency that was lifted in August.

Separately, ethnic clashes killed at least 11 people this week in the same region. Another bout of violence along Oromiya’s border with the country’s Somali region last month displaced hundreds of thousands of people.

The developments highlight tensions in the country where government has delivered high economic growth but is often accused of curbing political freedoms.

Government denies clamping down on free speech and blames rebel groups and dissidents abroad for stirring up violence.