Ethiopian forces ‘killed 400 Oromo protesters’

People mourn the death a man who was shot dead by the Ethiopian forces the day earlier, in the Yubdo Village, about 100km from Addis Ababa in the Oromia region, on 17 December 2015Image copyright

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Officials have acknowledged that more than 170 people were killed during the protests

Ethiopian security forces killed more than 400 people in the recent wave of anti-government demonstrations, US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) says.

In its most comprehensive report into the Oromo protests, HRW lists the names of more than 300 it says were killed.

The government has acknowledged that protesters have died but has said HRW was “very generous with numbers”.

Protests were sparked by fears that a plan to expand the capital into Oromia region would displace Oromo farmers.

They began in November last year, but the government dropped the proposal to enlarge Addis Ababa in January.

Oromia is Ethiopia’s largest region, completely surrounding the city.

The change of policy has not stopped the demonstrations, but they have reduced in their intensity.

An investigation by the Ethiopia Human Rights Commission, appointed by parliament, found that 173 people had died during the unrest.

Information Minister Getachew Reda said that in the main the security forces conducted themselves “in a very professional and responsible manner”.

He put the killings down to “a few bad apples”.

The government has said that it will investigate and deal with those responsible.

But critics point out that previous investigations into alleged human rights abuses have not led to prosecutions.

The anger over urban planning was an expression of much older complaints over a lack of political and economic inclusion of Oromo people, correspondents say.

At the last census in 2007, the Oromo made up Ethiopia’s biggest ethnic group, at about 25 million people out of a population at the time of nearly 74 million.

Ethiopian forces ‘killed 400 Oromo protesters’

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