Death toll reaches 16 as widespread protests hit Oromia region: media

ADDIS ABABA: October 24 (EI) – The Death toll from ongoing protests in Ethiopia’s Oromia regional state has climbed to 16 amid call to calm the deadly protests in different parts of the region.

According to Reuters, the death toll reached 16 on Thursday as various towns in Oromia regional state saw protesters taking the roads as well as blocking roads.

The widespread protests started on Wednesday morning shortly after a prominent activists and media entrepreneur, Jawar Mohammed, posted contents across social media platform, mainly on Facebook, stating an alleged confrontation that emerged after an alleged request to remove his security details – which initially assigned by the government upon the Jawar’s return to Ethiopia from exile.

“Why were they trying to remove my security at night? In the past whenever they made change to security, the commanders either personally call me or head my details to inform us. What changed now?… Almost all political and security leaders deny knowing anything about it,” Jawar said in a Facebook post.

The incident triggered youths across the region to block roads as they protested the alleged removal of Jawar’s security details, which Jawar claimed to have a hidden agenda.

“The plan was to remove my security and unleash civilian attackers and claim it was a mob attack,” Jawar said in a Facebook post.

“On Thursday morning, the army was deployed in Dodola, about 300 km (185 miles) south of the capital, after six people were killed,” Reuters quoted an official at Dodola hospital, he adding that three had been shot and three beaten to death.

“The number will definitely escalate,” he added. “We are hearing gunshots and people shouting.”

An army spokesman, however, said he had no information on the army being deployed anywhere.

The report also quoted Oromia regional police commissioner Kefyalew Tefera as saying that in the town of Ambo, 100-km west of Addis Ababa, five protesters had also died from wounds from gunshots and stones since Wednesday.

Security forces fired to disperse protesters setting tires alight, 30-year-old Solomon Kidanu told Reuters by phone as gunshots cracked in the background.

In Harar, 500 km (310 miles) east of the capital, police shot two people on Wednesday, an official said, and protesters killed a third because they suspected him of being an informant.

“Today the city is calm this morning but the road to Addis Ababa is closed by the young men,” the report quoted the official.

A businessman in Addis Ababa told Reuters he saw two dead protesters brought to the city’s Alert Hospital on Wednesday. Several roads heading out of Addis Ababa remained closed.

Religious leaders, government officials as well as traditional leaders have been calling for calm as ongoing widespread protests, most of which blocked major road outlets including roads connecting the capital Addis Ababa.

Photo – by REUTERS – Tiksa Negeri – Shows Oromo youth chant slogans during a protest in-front of Jawar MohammedÕs house, an Oromo activist and leader of the Oromo protest in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, October 24, 2019.

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