At least 23 killed in violence targeting minorities in Ethiopia

Locals said shops were looted and people attacked by Oromo youth who stormed through streets targeting businesses and homes of ethnic minorities. The violence escalated on Saturday after two days of sporadic attacks in several areas northwest of Addis Ababa.
Ethiopia’s Oromo community celebrates the return of the leadership of Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) at Mesquel Square in Addis Ababa.(AFP)
Ethiopia’s Oromo community celebrates the return of the leadership of Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) at Mesquel Square in Addis Ababa.(AFP)
Updated on Sep 17, 2018 09:30 PM IST
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Addis Ababa | ByReuters

At least 23 people were killed in a weekend of violence targeting minorities in the ethnic Oromo heartland near Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, a police source said.

The unrest followed a mass rally on Saturday marking the return to Ethiopia of the leadership of exiled Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) group, which had fought an insurgency for self-determination for Oromos, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group.

The incidents are the latest in a spate of ethnic unrest — including the displacement of nearly 1 million people in another part of the country — since reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power in April, the first Oromo ruler in the ethnically diverse Ethiopia’s modern history.

Local residents said shops were looted and people attacked by Oromo youth who stormed through streets targeting businesses and homes of ethnic minorities. The violence escalated on Saturday after two days of sporadic attacks in several areas of the Oromiya region’s Burayu district northwest of Addis Ababa, residents said.

“Mobs of ethnic Oromo youth then marched here in Ashwa Meda and attacked our homes and looted businesses chanting ‘leave our land’,” said Hassan Ibrahim, a trader in an ethnically diverse part of the district told Reuters by telephone. “By night time, there were several dead bodies along roads.”

Alemayehu Ejigu, head of Oromiya region’s police commission, said more than 70 people had been arrested, and denied accusations that police were slow to respond. “They (mobs) do not represent anyone — they had no reason other than theft. Anyone has the constitutional right to reside in Oromiya or anywhere,” he said.

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