At least 78 people killed in Ethiopian protests last week – prime minister’s office

A group of supporters perform and shout slogans at the house of opposition leader Jawar Mohammed to show their support, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Thursday Oct. 24, 2019. Ethiopia’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning prime minister Abiy Ahmed faced the most serious political challenge of his short rule Thursday as officials said dozens of people might be dead in two days of unrest, and Jawar Mohammed hinted that he might enter next year’s election race to challenge Abiy to become Prime Minister. (AP photo Mulugeta Ayene)

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – At least 78 people were killed during protests in Ethiopia last week over the treatment of a prominent activist, the prime minister’s spokeswoman said on Thursday.

Billene Seyoum told a news conference that 409 people had been detained over the unrest and that investigations were ongoing and the death toll and number detained could rise.

Supporters of activist Jawar Mohammed took to the streets last week to protest against his treatment after he said police had surrounded his home in Addis Ababa and tried to withdraw his government security detail.

Crowds of young men from his Oromo ethnic group quickly turned their anger against Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, also an Oromo, saying that he had betrayed them by mistreating Jawar.

Billene said that at least 78 civilians had died in “a very senseless act of violence” in the Oromiya and Harari regions and the eastern city of Dire Dawa.