800 people arrested in Ethiopia amid fresh regional violence

Ethiopia map
Ethiopia on Map used to illustrate the story.

Ethiopian authorities have arrested 800 people accused of causing fresh violence in the East African nation, officials said on Thursday.

Some 500 people were arrested over the past week in Oromia on suspicion of murder, illegal land invasion, burning down coffee plantations and setting up barricades, according to Beyissa Kuma, a spokesman for the restive region.

Regional officials said in the so-called Southern region, about 300 people have been detained over the past few days for inciting violence.

It was unclear on Thursday what motivated the clashes.

In the past, unrest in those regions has been prompted by calls for political reform and ethnic inclusion.

The latest unrest comes as Ethiopia’s new leader, Ahmed Abiy, continues to usher in reforms, as well as releasing political prisoners, mending ties with neighbouring Eritrea and widening democratic freedoms.

Mr Abiy took office after his predecessor resigned amid widespread anti-government protests that claimed the lives of several hundred people, mainly in the restive Oromia and Amhara regions.

Ethiopia’s attorney general Berhanu Tsegaye told state-affiliated Fana Television on Thursday that some people were abusing the new freedoms granted by Abiy’s reforms.

“The government will take whatever measures are deemed necessary to restore order,” Mr Tsegaye told the broadcaster.


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