nazret.com – Eye witnesses from the town of Ambo in Ethiopia’s Oromia region, told several news media that government forces fired live bullets at demonstrators killing at least ten people. According to a resident cited by the Associated Press, the killings occurred around midday on Thursday and several residents reported hearing gun shots since the morning.
The local head of communications, Gadisa Desalenge, told VOA that the federal and special elite “Agazi” forces, who were deployed to the area early Thursday, were responsible for the deaths. Desalenge also told VOA that some of the protesters, “infuriated by the killings,” set several trucks on fire.
The latest protest — which follows on more than a year of deadly protests in the region between November 2015 and December 2016 — was triggered by recent shortages of sugar. According to AFP, protesters blocked the town’s main road after a rumor spread that trucks passing through were carrying scarce sugar, on orders of the government, destined to an area of the town seen as loyal to the government.
U.S. embassy in Ethiopia said the following about the killings in Ambo.
Deeply disturbing reports of violence & deaths in Ambo highlight importance of peaceful expression & conflict resolution by all #Ethiopia
— U.S. Embassy Addis (@USEmbassyAddis) October 26, 2017
Ambo is a hot spot for anti-government demonstrations. Such displays of public dissent earned the town a reputation as the bastion of opposition in a country where political demonstrations are often dealt with brutal force.
Ambo, known as home of Ethiopia’s famous mineral water, is located just 74 miles west of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. Oromia region, where Ambo is located, has been at the forefront of the protest movement that initially began over a federal government proposal to expand the capital’s boundaries, which the Oromos feared would lead to them losing their land. Just last year nearly 700 people were killed in one bout of unrest.