More than 166 people have been killed in Ethiopia during protests and violence in the aftermath of the killing of Ethiopian singer Hachalu Hundessa, the government said on Sunday, reported Reuters.
The 34-year-old Hundessa, whose protest music galvanized members of the country’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, was shot by unknown gunmen in a suburb of Addis Ababa last week. The ethnic group Oromo has a long history of being discriminated against.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed condemned the killing, saying it was “an evil act”.
Mass protests against the musician’s brutal killing broke out in Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa and soon spread to the surrounding Oromia region. The Ethiopia government had initially said 80 people had been killed during the protests, which lasted for two days.
But, on Sunday, a senior regional security official told Reuters that the death toll was at least double that, with 145 civilians and 11 security personnel killed. As per the Reuters report, a source in the national police service said another 10 people were killed in Addis Ababa. More than 1,084 people have been arrested so far.
Jibril Mohammed, head of the Oromia Security and Peace Bureau, said more deaths are expected to be reported due to the number of injuries being treated in hospitals.
The government has already deployed the military in the affected towns to quell the protests. Authorities also shut down the Internet soon after the protests began, and they are yet to switch it on again.
“The (Oromia) region is now relatively calm and there is no violence or protests at the moment,” Jibril told Reuters by phone. “Businesses have also re-opened.”
International human rights watchdog Amnesty International has called on Ethiopia’s government to Haacaaluu’s killers to justice.
Notably, since Prime Minister Abiy came to power in 2018, ethnic groups’ demands for social, political, and economic inclusion and in some cases, independence have been growing in Ethiopia.