AT LEAST 166 people have now been confirmed dead during violent protests that erupted in Ethiopia after the murder of Oromo singer Hachalu Hundeessa last Monday.
Oromia region deputy police commissioner Girma Gelam said: “In the aftermath of Hachalu’s death, 145 civilians and 11 security forces have lost their lives in the unrest in the region,” with another 10 killed in the capital, Addis Ababa.
Mr Girma confirmed that 167 people had “sustained serious injuries” and 1,084 people were arrested.
The unrest appeared to have settled over the weekend with shops and businesses reopening after the army was deployed on the streets of the capital following bomb blasts.
Five people have been arrested in connection to the death of Mr Hundeesa which sparked mass protests over the marginalisation and discrimination against the Oromo people, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group.
United Nations spokesman Rupert Colville appealed for calm and appeared to shift blame for the unrest onto the protesters.
He called on all, “including young people, to stop carrying out ethnically motivated attacks and to stop incitement to violence, acts that only serve to exacerbate underlying tensions.
“We also urge the security forces to exercise restraint when managing protests and to refrain from using unnecessary or disproportionate force,” he added.
Mr Colville stressed the need for thorough and transparent investigations into the killing of Mr Hundeesa to bring the perpetrators to justice.
“We also stand ready to provide support to the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission in its investigation of potential human rights violations during these violent events,” he said.
Oromia Media Network owner Jawar Mohammed is set to appear in court on July 16, accused of broadcasting content inciting ethnic tensions.
Mr Mohammed is also an opposition politician from the Oromo Federalist Congress.
He was arrested last week along with leading member of the National Movement of Amhara, Eskinder Nega and journalist Bekele Garba.