At least four people died west of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, when security forces fired on unarmed protesters, according to Feyissa Raya and other witnesses.
The shooting on Tuesday, in the central Oromia region, adds to tensions following more than three weeks of demonstrations by the Oromo, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, against a plan to integrate Addis Ababa with surrounding towns in Oromia Regional State. They argue it will cause Oromo farmers to lose their land and erode the group’s cultural and linguistic identity.
About 50 people have been killed since Nov. 19 across Oromia, including as many as 13 on Tuesday, said Bekele Nega, the general-secretary of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress. The government has put the death toll at five and accused the movement of becoming increasingly violent.
Ethiopia, Africa’s second-most populous country, has a state-led development model guided by a ruling coalition that has all 547 seats in the federal parliament.
Protesters set up roadblocks on Tuesday, starting at Necho town located about 60 kilometers (37 miles) outside Addis Ababa.
The compound of Oromia’s Wolenkomi administration was ransacked and burned by hundreds of people who also destroyed other government buildings, including the police station, four days ago, said its guard Elias Wadaje in an interview.