At least seven people were killed and dozens injured in clashes between protesters and anti-riot police in the Ethiopia’s Oromia State, a state official in the region told journalists on Wednesday.Umi Abajemal, deputy head of communications in the area, said anti-government protests had broken out in some towns in the region since Monday and left seven fatalities as the police moved in to restore order.
She said about eight people were injured while public and private properties were destroyed in the violence which broke out in the satellite towns of Batu, Legetafo, and Jimma, where protesters clashed with the police who used teargas to clear the streets.
The protest was accompanied by sit-ins by state workers who also demanded better conditions of service and benefits.
Abajemal said there were roadblocks and a suspension of commercial activities since Monday as protesters waved banners demanding the freedom of some activists still being held in Ethiopian jails.
Some 750 prisoners involved in a series of protests in Ethiopia since 2016 were pardoned recently with a promise by the government to free others.
Among those freed was Bekele Gereba, a senior opposition leader
Gerba, the secretary general of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), was arrested in December 2015 after mass protests broke out in the Oromia state over accusations that farmers were being forced to sell land with scant compensation.
Others released include Gurmessa Ayana, Addisu Bulala, Dejene Tafa, Getu Garuma, Tesfaye Liben and Beyene Ruda, who also were charged with inciting violence.
The government Wednesday released prominent journalist and blogger Eskinder Nega and Andualem Arage respectively.
Ethiopia’s Attorney General recently announced the state was dropping all charges against them.