166 die during protests after shooting of Ethiopian singer

Haacaaluu Hundeessaa was shot dead in Addis Ababa on Monday night, fuelling ethnic tensions

Funeral protests
The Ethiopian musician Hachalu Hundessa posing while dressed in a traditional costume in Addis Ababa in 2019.Credit…Tiksa Negeri/Reuters

(The Guardian) — At least 166 people have died during violent demonstrations that roiled Ethiopia in the days following the murder of popular singer Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, police said Saturday.

The singer, a member of the Oromo ethnic group, Ethiopia’s largest, was shot dead by unknown attackers in Addis Ababa on Monday night, fuelling ethnic tensions threatening the country’s democratic transition.

“In the aftermath of Haacaaluu’s death, 145 civilians and 11 security forces have lost their lives in the unrest in the region,” said Girma Gelam, deputy police commissioner of Oromia region, in a statement on the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate.

Another 10 are known to have died in the capital Addis Ababa.

Girma said that a further 167 had “sustained serious injuries” and that 1,084 people had been arrested.

Officials have attributed the deaths to a combination of lethal force by security officers and inter-ethnic violence.

Girma added that the violent unrest had now “completely stopped”.

Haacaaluu’s music gave voice to Oromos’ widespread sense of economic and political marginalisation during years of anti-government protests that swept the prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, to power in 2018.

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