Ethiopia: At least six killed in protest that ensues decree of state of emergency

by Engidu Woldie
ESAT News (March 3, 2018)

Residents of towns in the Oromo region used rocks and burning tires to block roads and shut down transportations and businesses as soon as Ethiopia’s Parliament on Friday ratified, in a controversial tally of votes, a six-month state of emergency that gives absolute power to the military.

Agazi soldiers of the regime have unleashed their brute force today killing at least six and injuring a dozen others. The Agazi force is exclusively made up of ethnic Tigrayans, who also form the ruling Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which also controls the military.

Abdeta Mitiku, killed today in Ambo town. (Photo: Social media)

Residents of Ambo, Metu and Guder, who spoke to ESAT say armed soldiers of Agazi were going door to door forcing people to clear roads. They shot and killed those who refuse orders, according to residents of the towns, who also said even the regional police were not spared from the attack.

In Guder, 80 miles west of the capital, a father and son were shot by the soldiers while they were at home. The father died on the spot and the son, who is critically wounded, was taken to a hospital in Addis Ababa.

The Voice of America Amharic service spoke to a neighbor who said the father, Digafe Dandena, was sound asleep when the soldiers break into his house. The neighbor told the VOA that the soldiers asked Dandena to come out and clear the rocks and tree logs blocking the road outside.

“He just said ‘I am an old man, leave me alone,’ at which point one of the soldiers shot him at a close range with a sniper rifle. They tore his head apart and we had to bury him on the same day due to the excessive and non-stop bleeding,” the neighbor, who wanted to remain anonymous told the VOA.

“The son, Terefe, was trying to intervene when they shot him. He is critically wounded and we fear for his life,” he added. Terefe was shot in the head, abdomen and shoulder.

Three people were shot and killed by Agazi soldiers in Ambo town, about sixty miles outside the capital Addis Ababa. Residents also told ESAT that two local police officers were shot by the soldiers. One of the officers has died at the hospital. The soldiers, who entered the town Friday night, were forcing residents to clear roads on Saturday with their guns pulled out. Some residents were forced to clean roads at gunpoint, a resident told ESAT on the phone.

One of those killed in Ambo is a young man by the name Abdeta Mitiku, who was shot in the head and died instantly, his friend told the VOA. The soldiers also shot and wounded a local police officer who was trying to pick up the body of Diribsa Chemeda, that was lying on the street for hours.

A twelve year old was shot and killed in Mendi town. One person was killed in Kelem Wollega while another sustained serious injuries, the report said.

Three people were also shot and wounded in Ginchi town, another hot spot of the anti-regime protest in the Oromo region. Ginchi town is where the protest against the regime began in November 2015. Attempt by authorities to take control of a soccer field for “development” had angered the youth in the town who took to the streets to denounce the regime. Protests quickly spread throughout the Oromo and Amhara regions demanding an end to dictatorship by a minority.

Hundreds were killed and tens of thousands detained since the crisis began in late 2015.

The killing today came few days ahead of a visit by the U.S. State Secretary, Rex Tillerson, who will also be travelling to few other African countries. The regime in Ethiopia, a strategic ally of the United States against Islamic extremism in the Horn of Africa, enjoys financial aid and military cooperation. Talks between Tillerson and Ethiopian officials is expected to focus on the political deadlock in the country that has resulted from demand by Oromo and Amhara political leaders within the coalition for a fair share of political and economic power that has been solely controlled by the Tigrayans.