U.S. citizen killed, foreign factories attacked in Ethiopia

Demonstrators chant slogans while flashing the Oromo protest gesture during Irreecha, the thanksgiving festival of the Oromo people, in Bishoftu town, Oromiya region, Ethiopia, in this file photo taken October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri/File Photo

Demonstrators chant slogans while flashing the Oromo protest gesture during Irreecha, the thanksgiving festival of the Oromo people, in Bishoftu town, Oromiya region, Ethiopia, in this file photo taken October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri/File Photo

By Aaron Maasho | ADDIS ABABA
A U.S. citizen was killed and foreign-owned factories and equipment damaged during a wave of protests over land and political rights in Ethiopia this week.

The U.S. Embassy said the American woman was killed on Tuesday when stones were hurled at her vehicle on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, where residents said crowds have attacked other vehicles since a stampede at a weekend protest killed at least 55 people.

The weekend crush took place when police fired teargas and shots in the air to disperse anti-government demonstrations during a festival in the Oromiya region, south of the capital.

The embassy did not give further details or a precise location for the incident.

Oromiya has been a focus for demonstrations by locals who say land has been seized to build factories and housing blocks.

Also on Tuesday, crowds damaged a factory run by Turkish textile firm Saygin Dima and the BMET Energy cable plant, which also has Turkish investors, officials from firms in the area said. Both plants are in the Oromiya area.

A third of the Saygin Dima plant in Sebeta, 35 km (20 miles) southwest of Addis Ababa, was destroyed by fire, General Manager Fatih Mehmet Yangin said. “A large crowd attacked the factory,” he said, adding three vehicles were also destroyed.

Yangin said a flower farm nearby was also attacked. The Oromiya Regional Administration said vehicles and some machinery at a plant owned by Nigeria’s Dangote Cement were vandalized.

Oromiya has been a focus for industrial development that has fueled Ethiopia’s economic growth, but locals say they receive little compensation when land is grabbed. Protests have also increasingly turned to broader issues of political freedom.

The death toll from unrest and clashes between police and demonstrators over the past year or more runs into several hundred, according to opposition estimates. The government says such figures are inflated.


The attacks will cast a shadow over Ethiopia’s ambition to draw in more investment to industrialize a nation where most people rely on subsistence farming, and have been struggling with a severe drought in the past two years or so.

The government has been building new infrastructure, including an electrified railway connecting the capital of the landlocked nation with a port in neighboring Djibouti, which was inaugurated on Wednesday.

At least seven foreign-owned flower farms in Ethiopia’s Amhara region, another area where protests have flared, were damaged in political violence at the start of September.

The government blames rebel groups and foreign-based dissidents for stoking violence.


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Rights groups and opposition politicians accuse the government of excessive force in dealing with demonstrations, crushing opponents and stifling free speech.

The Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ) called on authorities on Tuesday to free Seyoum Teshoume, a blogger critical of the government, who writes for the website Ethiothinktank.com. CPJ said he was reported detained on Oct. 1.

Officials could not immediately be reached for comment, but the government says it only detains people who threaten national security and says it guarantees free speech.

The opposition failed to win a single parliamentary seat in the 2015 election and had just one in the previous parliament.

Rights group Amnesty International demanded an investigation into how security forces handled the weekend protest that led to the stampede during a popular cultural festival in Oromiya, saying it had documented multiple complaints of police using excessive force against largely peaceful protesters.

(Additional reporting by Asli Kandemir in Istanbul; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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Posted by on October 5, 2016. Filed under FEATURED. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

3 Responses to U.S. citizen killed, foreign factories attacked in Ethiopia

  1. Bini

    October 6, 2016 at 12:55 PM

    My condolence for the American women and more than thousand people who killed in these movement. The current Ethiopian guverment takes irresponsible action on the peaceful protestre all over the country. In this case, so many inocent people got kiled, and thousands people are take to the prison.

  2. sam

    October 6, 2016 at 1:11 PM

    Ethiopia is in crises. The Ethiopian government military and security power seems ineffective in suppressing the unrest we are witnessing. Finally, it seems the Ethiopian government has become the victim of its own politics: ethnic federalism. A government which is obsessed with ethnicity, it is ironic, seems to unravel because of ethnic grievances. The Amhara chauvinists being the perpetrators of everything evil in Ethiopia might sound hollow to most Ethiopians now, except to the founders of TPLF. The very theory that the Amharas were the cause of ethnic oppression, whatever that means, sounds unconvincing today. Now, it seems, based on the demonstrations we are witnessing the Tigreans are the evil Ethiopia has now. Long time ago, when the TPLF leaders were challenged about infusing ethnic politics in Ethiopian political discourse, they were quick to pull out their adjectives. Their most used adjective, even a political word one could say, has been chauvinist. Now, it seems other ethnic groups are willing to award that very adjective to them. Is that fair? That is not the right question. As the few Tigreans elites have believed there was no ethnic oppression in Ethiopia that the TPLF destined to remedy. True, some ethnicities used to have a hard time than other ethnic groups in Ethiopia. That was not because of ethnic oppression. It was because of Ethiopia’s backwardness. It is very essential to separate the two because not doing so lead seeking different solutions. One leads to an objective solution. The other not. Ethnic politics cannot and will not lead to a perfect harmony. That is a fantasy. It leads to constant friction. Especially, politicians use it to advance their ambitions. In Ethiopia ethnic politics survived this long because the major ethnic groups politicians formed a single party: EPDRF. Are those four parties equal? More importantly are the people of Ethiopia have believed them to be equal? As I said ethnic politics is a loser.

  3. Jone

    October 6, 2016 at 1:12 PM

    Ethiopian people who are great out from weyana ademinstrationby force fighting don’t retrate ok be great administration for ever