8 August 2016
Protests against the Ethiopian government have left dozens of people dead, activists and witnesses said on Monday following a wave of unrests around the country.
The government has put the death toll at only seven.
Demonstrations accusing the government of human rights abuses and of marginalising ethnic communities raged over the weekend in the north-western region of Amhara and Oromia, Ethiopia’s largest region covering parts of the south and west.
The Oromo and Amhara are the largest among Ethiopia’s more than 80 ethnic groups, making up an estimated 30 per cent each of the 94 million population.
The government said seven people were killed in Amhara’s capital Bahir Dar as protesters clashed with police.
But social media activists and witnesses said clashes in Amhara and Oromia claimed up to 25 lives.
“Social amenities, hotels, banks and privately-owned properties were attacked during the violence in Bahir Dar,’’ the Amhara region’s spokesman, Nigusu Tilhaun said.
Activists and witnesses accused the authorities of a brutal crackdown to silence criticism.
Oromia had previously seen months of protests against plans to extend the boundary of the capital, Addis Ababa, which is located in Oromia, amid concern that it could lead to farmers being displaced.
The protests led to security forces killing more than 400 people, according to Human Rights Watch.