Ethiopian protesters attack factories in Africa’s rising economic star

ADDIS ABABA Protesters in Ethiopia damaged almost a dozen mostly foreign-owned factories and flower farms and destroyed scores of vehicles this week, adding economic casualties to a rising death toll in a wave of unrest over land grabs and rights.

The violence has cast a shadow over a nation where a state-led industrial drive has created one of Africa’s fastest growing economies, but where the government has also faced rising international criticism and popular opposition to its authoritarian approach to development.

The flare-up followed the death of at least 55 people in a stampede on Sunday when police fired tear gas and shot into the air to disperse demonstrators in the Oromiya region near the capital.

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It raises to more than 450 the number of people rights groups and opponents say have been killed in unrest since 2015. A U.S. researcher was killed on Tuesday when her car was attacked by stone-throwers near Addis Ababa.

The government says the toll cited by critics is inflated.

Fana Broadcasting, which is seen as close to the state, reported on its website that 11 companies ranging from textile firms to a plastics maker to flower farms had been damaged or destroyed, while more than 60 vehicles had been torched.

Dutch firm FV SeleQt said its 300-hectare vegetable farm and warehouse had been plundered. Another Dutch firm, Africa Juice, said its factory had been partially destroyed.

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The manager of one of the Turkish companies, textile firm Saygin Dima, told Reuters this week at least a third of his factory was burned down.

Fana’s website showed images of burned-out trucks on the road side, blaming the damage on “perpetrators of violence”, echoing the line taken by the government, which

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