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Stampede leaves dozens dead in Ethiopia protest

Oct 03, 2016, 5:02 AM EDT
Ethiopia's Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn
(Source: UNIDO/flickr)

At least 52 people were killed and dozens of others injured in a stampede in Ethiopia’s Oromia region where thousands of anti-government protesters gathered at a religious festival on Sunday. Some of the witnesses accused the security forces of employing tear gas, rubber bullets and baton charges, which eventually led to the mayhem. Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn blamed “evil forces” for the incident, pledging that the culprits will be brought to justice.

An Oromo activist, Jawar Mohamed, claimed that the troops and a helicopter gunship opened fire on the protesters, forcing them to fall to their deaths in ravines, reports the BBC. Ethiopia has witnessed a series of sporadic protests over the past two years by people in the Oromia and Amhara regions, who say they have been politically and economically marginalized.

According to an estimate by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, some 500 people have been killed in clashes between the government forces and demonstrators since November, reports Al Jazeera. Ethnic tensions have intensified as the Oromo and the Amhara ethnic groups, rail against the Tigray ethnic group, which dominates the ruling coalition despite making just six percent of the country’s population.