Two die as protest erupts in ancient Ethiopian city

Two die as protest erupts in ancient Ethiopian city

Amhara region president Gedu Andargachew did not mention any deaths but told journalists the protests were illegal and said security services would take measures against anyone who took part.

Any sign of unrest is closely watched in Ethiopia, a major Western ally against Islamist militants in neighbouring Somalia and an economic power seen as a centre of relative stability in a fragile region.

“Two protesters were shot and killed in Piassa,” said one campaigner by phone, referring to a central district in the city.

Clashes carried on into the evening, said another, a rare public protest in a country whose government has been accused of cracking down on dissent. Roads were blocked and access to social media limited, he added.

Tensions have been rumbling for around 25 years over the status of Wolkayt district – a stretch of land that protesters from Amhara say was illegally incorporated into the neighbouring Tigray region to the north.

The issue boiled over into violence two weeks ago when crowds came out in Gonder saying they were protesting against an attempt to arrest Wolkayt campaigners.

Government spokesman Getachew Reda said at the time six policemen were killed by the protesters and accused an “illegal committee” of stoking ethnic untest.

The dispute, while centred on a relatively small patch of land, is particularly sensitive because it challenges a division of Ethiopia along ethnic and linguistic lines, imposed by the core of the current ruling EPRDF coalition when it came to power in 1991.

After toppling Mengistu Haile Mariam’s Marxist military dictatorship, the former rebels set up the boundaries that they said would recognise the country’s different groups and prevent any one from dominating the others through a system of so-called ethnic federalism.

Protesters in Gonder – known as Africa’s Camelot because of its ancient castles – say they had finally decided

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