The deadly demonstrations in Ethiopia following the murder of a popular singer from the Oromo ethnic group has risen to 239.
The Oromia police have detained at least 3,500 people amid the violence.
Hachalu Hundessa, 34, was shot dead on June 29 while he was driving on the outskirts of the capital, Addis Ababa. The singer had claimed to receive death threats.
He was well known for his political songs. His music was focused on the rights of the country’s Oromo ethnic group and became anthems among protests that led to the downfall of the previous prime minister in 2018.
Following his death protests broke out in the capital Addis Ababa, as well as the surrounding Oromia region which is the homeland of the country’s largest ethnic group, who have long felt economically and politically sidelined in the diverse nation.
Reports blame the police for using lethal force against protesters.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed expressed his condolences over the killing of Hundessa but added that the “coordinated attempts” of violence was to destabilise the country.
The death and the protests also comes as political tensions rose following the indefinite postponement of elections due in August, amid the coronavirus pandemic.
This would’ve been the first electoral test for Mr Abiy after he came to power in April 2018.
The Oromo community is Ethiopia‘s largest ethnic group, have long complained of being neglected. Demonstrations erupted in 2016 and pressure built on the government. The ruling coalition eventually replaced then-Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn with Mr Abiy.
He has brought in a series of reforms, which have transformed what was considered a very oppressive state. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 primarily for making peace with long-time foe Eritrea, but his efforts in transforming Ethiopia were also recognised.