Local media reports on Wednesday, August 19, claim that multiple people have been killed in recent days amid clashes between protesters and security forces in various areas of the Oromia region. The unrest reportedly began in Shashemene, Ambo, Aweday, Haramaya, and other towns on Monday evening, August 17, following rumors that the detained Oromo activist Jawar Mohammed had become critically ill whilst in custody. Further protests over the mass arrest of activists and use of force by security forces during unrest in the region at the end of June were also held in multiple areas across the region on Tuesday, August 18.
According to activists, many of the demonstrations were aggressively dispersed by security forces using tear gas and live fire. Medical sources also reported treating multiple people for gunshot injuries in Haramaya, Aweday, Ciro, Dire Dawa, Ambo, Gedeb Asasa, Shashemene, and Bale Robe, with several dozen of these being fatal. However, government sources are yet to confirm the clashes.
Further unrest and associated security operations are likely in the Oromia region in the near term.
Despite Abiy's appointment as Prime Minister in 2018 and the end of the widespread protest campaigns and a state of emergency in the Oromia region, tensions between the government and the Oromo community have been increasing in recent months. Unrest and clashes between protesters and security forces have repeatedly broken out following the killing or arrest of prominent Oromo activists.
Dozens of Oromo activists were killed in several days of unrest in Addis Ababa and throughout the Oromoia region following the murder of the prominent Oromo activist and musician Haacaaluu Hundeessaa on June 29. Jawar Mohammed, the prominent leader of the Oromia Media Network (OMN), was arrested during the protests after he and his supporters allegedly attacked security forces transporting Haacaaluu's body. However, his supporters have insisted that the charges are politically motivated.
Those in the Oromia region are 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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