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The Financial Express

Police shoot dead seven festival goers in Ethiopia

| Updated: January 25, 2018 11:17:12


Protestors run from tear gas launched by security personnel during the Irecha, the thanks giving festival of the Oromo people in Bishoftu town of Oromia region, Ethiopia, 2 October, 2016. (Reuters photo used for representation) Protestors run from tear gas launched by security personnel during the Irecha, the thanks giving festival of the Oromo people in Bishoftu town of Oromia region, Ethiopia, 2 October, 2016. (Reuters photo used for representation)

Clashes during a religious festival in Ethiopia's northern Amhara regional state have taken the lives of seven people, a regional official said Sunday.

Amare Goshu, Head of North Wollo Zone Police Department at Amhara state, said the deaths happened on Saturday and Sunday in Woldiya city, as crowds shouting anti-government slogans clashed with security forces.

The clashes erupted during Epiphany celebrations commemorating the baptism of Jesus Christ, reports Xinhua news agency.

Goshu said six of the dead were civilians and one was a security officer, while two other officers and 15 civilians were injured.

Angry protesters burnt down several hotels, restaurants and shops in response to the clashes, said witnesses.

One witness said that exchanges of gunfire could be heard in Woldiya until midday Sunday.

Anti-government demonstrators in Ethiopia have been calling for political and economic reforms and an end to state corruption and human rights abuses, says a BBC report.

Among the suspects released from detention by the government on Wednesday was prominent opposition leader Merera Gudina, who spent more than a year in detention.

At the beginning of January, Prime Minster Hailemariam Desalegn announced the government would close Maekelawi - a detention facility in the capital, Addis Ababa, allegedly used as a torture chamber.

The Ethiopian government imposed a state of emergency from October 2016 to August 2017 to end an unprecedented wave of protests against its 25-year rule.

More than 11,000 people were arrested, mostly from the Oromia and Amhara regions, where many people complain of political and economic marginalisation.

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