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Ethiopia turmoil reignites after Oromo stampede

Oct 06, 2016, 6:53 AM EDT
Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn
(Source: UNIDO/flickr)

Following a stampede that killed at least 50 anti-government protesters who had gathered at an ethnic cultural festival in Ethiopia’s Oromia region on Sunday, unrest reignited as the government intensified crackdown on dissenters by temporarily blocking the internet and arresting bloggers. The Oromo, Ethiopia’s biggest ethnic group, began the demonstrations in November over land rights and gradually extended their demands to political, economic and cultural rights.

On Tuesday, a U.S. citizen who was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Davis, was killed after violent protesters struck her car with rocks in the outskirts of the capital, Addis Ababa, reports ABC News.

The protestors in the Oromia region have been targeting foreign-owned factories and equipment, as they accuse the government of snatching their farmland to set up foreign factories and housing blocks, writes Al Jazeera. The government has drawn sharp criticism from rights groups and opposition leaders for use of excessive force to quell dissent and stifle free speech.

The Committee for the Protection of Journalists demanded the government to release the bloggers who have been detained for denouncing state policies, while officials claim that only those who pose a threat to national security have been detained.

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