Protests were reported in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People's Region (SNNPR) town of Sodo on Monday, August 10, following violent unrest in the area the previous day. At least 18 people were injured after protests broke out over the arrest of 26 local community leaders and activists on Sunday, with the government accusing the group of attempting to instigate violence in the region. However, local Wolaita leaders later claimed that at least 64 had been injured and nine killed as security forces used live fire and rubber bullets to disperse protesters who blocked a number of roads in the town on Sunday evening, with residents reporting sporadic gunfire throughout the night.
Smaller demonstrations are reported to have occurred in Sodo on Monday morning despite a strong security forces presence, and further clashes and gunfire were reported by local residents. Although the situation had reportedly calmed by Monday afternoon, much of the town is believed to have been placed under lockdown by security forces, with businesses closed and residents advised to remain indoors.
Further protests and security deployments are possible in the area in the near term.
Tensions have been increasing in the SNNPR since the Sidama region voted to break away and form its own ethnic administration, prompting calls from other groups in the region for more autonomy. However, the government has strongly resisted moves by smaller ethnic groups, such as the Wolaita community, to secede from the region amid concerns over increasing communal tensions.
Those in the Sodo area advised to monitor developments and heed any directives issued by local authorities. All demonstrations and political gatherings in Ethiopia should be avoided due to the high risk of incidental violence and aggressive crowd-dispersal operations by security forces.
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