Ethiopia: 'At least 50' dead in protests over musician's killing

Yolanda Curtis
July 2, 2020

Subsequently, with the help of security forces, the coffin was taken by helicopter to Ambo and the Oromia Police has arrested 35 people in connection with the deadly standoff, the commissioner said.

Police have described his death as a targeted killing.

Rumours of a plan to arrest him in October a year ago led to anti-Abiy protests which devolved into clashes fuelled by ethnicity and religion, leaving 78 dead.

A resident of Western Hararge, in Oromia told AFP on condition of anonymity that his cousin had been killed by young Oromo nationalists known as Querroo, because he was from the Amhara ethnic group.

"The security forces have taken eight Kalashnikovs, five pistols and nine radio transmitters from Jawar Mohammed's vehicle", he said of the arrest.

Jawar was initially supportive of Abiy, however like many Oromo nationalists has grown more critical of the prime minister, who is accused of not sufficiently advocating for the group's interests. "Rise, make your horse ready and fight, you are the one close to the palace".

During an interview last year with the Ethiopian Observer, Hundeessaa revealed that he previously spent five years in prison for taking part in protests.

Many like him fled into exile fearing persecution but he remained in the country and encouraged the youth to struggle. In the town of Adama, the main hospital received around 80 wounded people, medical director Dr Mekonnen Feyissa told Reuters. Eight people died en route to the hospital or in it, he said.

The statue shows Ras Makonnen, an important military figure and former governor of Harar province in the 19th Century under then-Emperor Menelik II, sitting on a horse.

In a tweet, Mr Abiy offered condolences and promised an investigation.

Prominent Oromo opposition leader Bekele Gerba and media mogul Jawar Mohammed, along with 34 other people, were also arrested when Jawar's bodyguards refused to disarm during a standoff with police.

It comes amid tensions following the government's decision to delay this year's national election, citing the coronavirus pandemic. Abiy's ascent to power in 2018 ended decades of dominance by ethnic Tigray leaders.

The Oromo, Ethiopia's largest ethnic group, have been complaining of political and economic marginalisation.

Hundeessaa said that "because of government oppression", he was forced to record his second album in the U.S., and added that "I oppose the leaders that have created oppressive systems and structures for Oromo people".

He has brought in a series of reforms, which have transformed what was considered a very oppressive state. While footage of such civil unrest would typically be spread across social media, internet-monitoring NGO Netblocks confirmed that access to the internet had been "cut across most of Ethiopia from just after 9 am local time on Tuesday".

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