Ethiopian protesters damage 11 factories, 60 cars in six days

Widespread rioting has erupted in Ethiopia's restive Oromia region, where anti-government protesters attacked factories and cars, a spokesman for the Oromia regional government said Friday.

Eleven factories and nearly 60 vehicles have been torched over the past six days, the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate reported late Thursday.

Regional government spokesman Fikadu Tessema said the rioting was still continuing. "Rioters are throwing rocks, burning vehicles and damaging both public and private property," the spokesman said.

"That has caused multiple damage to property on the outskirts of Addis Ababa,” he added.

Fana said rioters had targeted textile, plastic and bottled water manufacturers. The attacks have affected more than 40,000 factory workers, according to police.

The riots followed the deaths of more than 50 people in a stampede sparked by attempts by police to disperse protesters at an Oromo religious festival near the capital on Sunday.

The Oromia region, which is populated by the country’s largest Oromo ethnic group and includes Addis Ababa, has seen repeated flare-ups of anti-government protests in recent months.

The rallies initially protested plans to extend the boundary of Addis Ababa amid concern that it could lead to farmers being displaced. Those protests led to security forces killing more than 400 people, according to Human Rights Watch.

The boundary plan was abandoned, but resentment still festers among the Oromo community, which feels excluded from political and economic power.

Protesters target factories because they are seen as having links with the government and as operating on land from which Oromo farmers had been displaced.

Last update: Fri, 07/10/2016 - 13:59
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