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  • Ethiopia releases 'more than 2,000' held under state of emergency

    pm hailemariam desalegn of ethiopia

    Ethiopia's security forces have freed about 2,000 people detained under a state of emergency on suspicion of being involved in the recent violence which swept through parts of the country, the state-linked Fana Broadcasting Corporate has reported.

    The group had been released after "receiving education and counselling service," it quoted Defence Minister Siraj Fegessa as saying.

    The minister did not say how many people are still in detention.

    On 20 October, the BBC reported that more than 2,600 people had been arrested under the state of emergency, which was imposed on 9 October after a wave of anti-government protests.

    Opposition groups have been demanding greater political freedom in a country ruled by the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front since 1991.

    More than 1,500 weapons had also been recovered by the security forces, FBC reported.

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  • Sebeta administration: "1,000 suspects arrested"

    In Ethiopia, at least 1,000 suspects have been arrested over the violence in Sebeta town near the capital, Addis Ababa, the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate has reported.

    Only 40 to 50 suspects were natives of the town, while the majority were from other parts of Oromia region, the mayor, Ararsa Merdasa, is quoted as saying.

    Ethiopia has declared a state of emergency to curb unrest in Oromia and Amhara, two regions that have seen a wave of anti-government protests since last year. 

    The mayor added that if there were any innocent people among the 1,000 suspects, they would be released once investigations were concluded.

    Mr Ararsa said that residents had provided details of the rioters, including the crime they had committed, following public meetings.

    More arrests were expected, he added.

    Businessmen, who experienced massive losses after their properties were destroyed during the protests, are attending a "peace conference" in  Sebata, and called for better security, FBC reports.

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  • Ethiopia declares state of emergency to restore order after protests

    Ethiopia's Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn declared a six-month nationwide state of emergency on Sunday, saying months of unrest threatened the nation's stability.

    Audio: What Does a State of Emergency Mean for Ethiopia?

    Rights groups say more than 500 people have been killed in protests in the Oromiya region since last year, when anger over a development scheme for the capital turned into more general anti-government demonstrations over politics and human rights abuses.

    The government says the death toll is inflated.

    "A state of emergency has been declared because the situation posed a threat against the people of the country," Hailemariam said on state-run television.

    "Vital infrastructure, businesses , health and education centers, as well as government offices, and courts have been destroyed," he said.

    He also repeated earlier promises of reform and plans for dialogue with the opposition.

    The state of emergency was effective from Oct.8.

    The violence in Oromiya, Ethiopia's largest and most populous region which surrounds the capital Addis Ababa, and to a lesser extent in the Amhara province has put a shadow over a nation where a state-led industrial drive has created one of Africa's fastest growing economies.

    But the government also faces rising international criticism and popular opposition to its authoritarian approach to development.

    The unrest has also included attacks on businesses, many of the foreign-owned, including farms growing flowers for export.

    Hailemariam did not elaborate on what the state of emergency would entail but said details would be announced soon.

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  • American researcher killed by protesters in Ethiopia

    Sharon Gray, a UC Davis postdoctoral researcher in the university's plant biology department, was killed Tuesday in Ethiopia when the vehicle she was riding in was stoned by protesters, university official said. Brady Lab, Department of Plant Biology and Genome Center, University of California Davis.

    Sharon Gray, 30, was in the East African nation to attend a meeting related to her research, according to the university.

    Andy Fell, a university spokesman, confirmed that Gray was the American woman who was reported killed when stones were hurled at her vehicle on the outskirts of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, on Tuesday.

    The U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia issued a statement saying a passenger van was hit by rocks late Tuesday afternoon and that “one of the passengers, a U.S. citizen, was struck by a rock and subsequently died from her injury,” several overseas media outlets reported.

    Crowds have attacked other vehicles since a stampede at a weekend protest killed at least 55 people, according to news reports. The protests have centered on land and political rights in Ethiopia.

    Another member of the plant biology department who was traveling with Gray was not injured and is headed home, university officials said.

    Siobhan Brady, an associate professor of plant biology at UC Davis and head of the Brady Lab, where Gray worked as a postdoctoral fellow, said by email Wednesday night that she was in transit from Addis Ababa to San Francisco. She was unavailable for comment.

    University officials said Gray was attending a meeting in Ethiopia to discuss the next steps in a project she was involved in with the Netherlands Institute of Ecology and other charitable organizations.

    She had been at UC Davis since 2013, Fell said. He said Gray’s husband is also a university employee.

    “Even in tragedy, we hope that we all can find some comfort in the wonderful work Sharon was engaged in that will better the lives of so many around the world,” Ken Burtis, the university’s acting provost, said in a statement posted on the UC Davis Graduate Studies’ Facebook page.

    The university’s plant biology department posted a memorial page on its website with dozens of photographs of Gray at

    Gray received her doctorate in plant biology in 2013 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which she also attended as an undergraduate. Her research focused on studying the effects of a buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere on crops such as soybeans and tomatoes.

    The U.S. State Department is assisting in returning Gray’s body to her family.


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  • Ethiopia declares official mourning after stampede

    Protests continue in Oromia after 52 people killed in a stampede after police fired tear gas and warning shots [Reuters]

    Ethiopia has declared three days of national mourning after a stampede at a religious festival in Oromia, which started after police fired tear gas and warning shots, killed at least 50 people.

    The Government Communication Affairs Office said in a statement that flags across the country and at Ethiopian embassies and consular offices would be lowered to half-mast starting from Tuesday, the state news agency reported.

    "The country declares the mourning following the death of people who lost their lives because of the violence instigated by anti-peace elements," the government said.

    Oromo opposition leaders say the stampede was sparked by police firing tear gas and shooting in the air to disperse people at the festival. Sections of the crowd had started to shout anti-government slogans and make anti-government gestures, according to media reports.

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