Saturday 3 December 2016

Dozens die in crush as police fire on crowd

Elias Mesert Bishoftu, Ethiopia

Published 03/10/2016 | 02:30

Injured protesters wait for help after several people died during festival in Ethiopia. Photo: Tiksa Negeri
Injured protesters wait for help after several people died during festival in Ethiopia. Photo: Tiksa Negeri

AT LEAST 52 people were crushed to death in a stampede after police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse an anti-government protest at a massive religious festival in Ethiopia.

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An estimated two million people were attending the annual Irrecha thanksgiving event in Bishoftu town southeast of the capital, Addis Ababa.

The event took place in one of the East African country's most sensitive regions, Oromia, which has seen several months of sometimes deadly protests by people demanding wider freedoms.

An Ethiopian government spokesman blamed "people that prepared to cause trouble".

Witnesses said the crush began as protesters chanted anti-government slogans and pushed toward a stage where religious leaders were speaking.

Some threw rocks and plastic bottles. Police responded by using tear gas and firing rubber bullets.

People tried to flee, but some were crushed in nearby ditches.

Irish Independent

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