ADDIS ABABA (Xinhua)―Clashes during a religious festival in Ethiopia’s northern Amhara regional state has left seven people dead, a regional official said Sunday.

Amare Goshu, Head of North Wollo Zone Police Department at Amhara regional state, said the deaths happened on Saturday and Sunday in Woldia city, as crowds shouting anti-government slogans clashed with security forces.

The deaths happened during Epiphany celebrations commemorating the baptism of Jesus Christ.

He said six of the dead were civilians and one was a security officer, while two other officers and 15 civilians were injured.

Amare also said several private houses, cars and hotels were set ablaze.

Ethiopia’s Amhara regional state plunged into unrest in the second half of 2016 for reasons including a rumored disgruntlement of reallocation of a district to neighboring region.

Many Amhara ethnic groups that make up about 28 percent of Ethiopia’s population allege political and economic marginalization by the central government based in Addis Ababa.

Source: Xinhua
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EARLIER:

(BBC News)―At least five people have been killed in Woldia, northern Ethiopia, after security forces fired on a crowd at a religious festival who were reportedly shouting anti-government slogans.

Many more were injured in the incident in the town of Woldia, about 505km from the capital Addis Ababa, in Amhara Regional State. Angry protesters have blocked roads and businesses are closed.

There have been nearly three years of opposition demonstrations in Ethiopia.

On Wednesday, hundreds of activists were released from jail.

The deaths happened during the second day of Epiphany, when Orthodox Christians commemorate the baptism of Jesus.

Dozens of people are reportedly receiving hospital treatment after the shooting.

Anti-government demonstrators in Ethiopia have been calling for political and economic reforms and an end to state corruption and human rights abuses.

Among the suspects released from detention by the government on Wednesday was prominent opposition leader Merera Gudina, who spent more than a year in detention.

At the beginning of January, Prime Minster Hailemariam Desalegn announced the government would close Maekelawi – a detention facility in the capital, Addis Ababa, allegedly used as a torture chamber.

The Ethiopian government imposed a state of emergency from October 2016 to August 2017 to end an unprecedented wave of protests against its 25-year rule.

More than 11,000 people were arrested, mostly from the Oromia and Amhara regions, where many people complain of political and economic marginalization.

Continue reading this story at BBC News
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