Local government officials in Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' region (SNNPR) announced on Saturday, July 20, that at least 17 people were killed during violent protests in and around Hawassa on Thursday, July 18, and Friday, July 19. Clashes broke out on Thursday after Security forces reportedly thwarted a meeting planned by local activists to declare the formation of a new region in Ethiopia for the Sidama ethnic group. According to Malga district officials, at least 13 civilians were killed in Wotera Rassa on July 18. Doctors in Hawassa reported that four people died of gunshot wounds in the city on Friday. Local officials said that a “relative calm” returned to the region on Saturday; however, it is possible that further demonstrations will be held in the near term.
SNNPR is made up of numerous ethnic groups, including the Sidama who make up the largest group. Concerns have risen that if the Sidama are granted their own federal state, other ethnic groups will also try to do so, as an increase in ethnic-based unrest have been reported throughout the country in the past months.
Individuals in Ethiopia, and particularly those in Hawassa, are advised to monitor the situation, avoid all protests and demonstrations due to potential violence, anticipate heightened security measures and transportation disruptions near large public gatherings, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments.
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