Africa

More than 230 dead in Ethiopia after week of unrest sparked by singer's death

Protesters in the United States voice their outrage at events in Ethiopia. Source: Star Tribune

At least 239 people have been killed in Ethiopia after the violent death of a popular singer sparked unrest across the country.

At least 239 people have been killed and 3500 arrested in more than a week of unrest in Ethiopia that poses the biggest challenge yet to its Nobel peace prize-winning prime minister.

In the Oromia region, the toll includes 215 civilians along with nine police officers and five militia members, regional police commissioner Mustafa Kedir told the ruling party-affiliated Walta TV on Wednesday.

Officials earlier said 10 people were killed in the capital, Addis Ababa, eight of them civilians, amid outrage after a popular singer was shot dead last Monday.

Hachalu Hundessa had been a rallying voice in anti-government protests that led to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed taking power in 2018.

Mr Abiy swiftly introduced political reforms that also opened the way for long-held ethnic and other grievances in Africa's second most populous country.

The military was deployed during the outrage that followed Mr Hachalu's death.

In remarks last week while wearing a military uniform, Mr Abiy said dissidents to whom he had recently extended an offer of peace had "taken up arms" against the government.

He hinted there could be links between this unrest and the killing of the army chief last year as well as the grenade thrown at one of his own rallies in 2018.

The 3500 arrests have included that of Oromo activist Jawar Mohammed and more than 30 supporters.

The Oromo make up Ethiopia's largest ethnic group but had never held the country's top post until they helped bring Mr Abiy to power.

Local reports have said that in some places ethnic Oromo have attacked ethnic Amhara, and in Shashamane town some people were going home to home checking identity cards and targeting Amhara residents.

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