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Wednesday, December 07, 2022

Ethiopia detains 76 people over unrest during Eid-ul-Fitr prayers

NAIROBI, Kenya ( Associated Press) – Ethiopian authorities say they have arrested 76 suspects following unrest in the capital Addis Ababa during Eid al-Fitr prayers on Monday.

Days of tension between Christians and Muslims of the East African nation erupted in different parts of the country after at least 21 Muslims were killed in the northern city of Gondar on April 26.

Muslim representatives alleged that extremist Christian groups carried out the killings and a morning-to-evening curfew has been imposed in Gondar, a tourist destination and one of Ethiopia’s largest cities with more than 300,000 people.

According to officials in the northwest Amhara region, six security officers were arrested for “negligence” in the killings.

After the killings, some Christian churches were burned in other parts of the country.

Amid these tensions, thousands of Muslims gathered for Eid-ul-Fitr prayers in the capital city’s central Meskel Square on Monday, where they planned to move to a nearby stadium.

The procession turned violent after the police fired tear gas shells. According to local reports, some windows were smashed, a nearby museum was attacked and stones were thrown at the police. The police have arrested some of the protesters.

“Some persons have created disturbance which has caused damage to property and injuries to security forces. Seventy-six suspects are now in custody,” Ethiopia’s security task force said in a statement on Tuesday without providing further details.

“We are investigating the cause of these clashes and will inform the public on our findings,” said Addis Ababa police spokesman Marcos Tadese.

“It was all peaceful until one of the security personnel fired tear gas towards the crowd,” said Najeeb Amin, an eyewitness. He said angry people started pelting stones in protest.

“After that it all got out of control. Many children were separated from their family members and some buildings around Meskell Square hit rocks,” he said.

The majority of Ethiopia’s 115 million people are Ethiopian Orthodox Christians. About 34% of the population are Muslim.

Ethiopian religious groups have long coexisted peacefully, but recently ethnic and religious tensions have increased.

The ongoing civil war in Ethiopia’s northern Tigre region has exacerbated ethnic tensions. It is estimated that thousands of people have died in the conflict, particularly of the Tigre ethnic group, according to international aid groups.

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