Calm has returned to Bahir Dar, a lakeside city located 578km north of Addis Abeba, and the capital of the Amhara regional state, after a turbulent protest rally on Friday Dec. 19th by the residents of the city.
State TV reported that one person was killed and a few people were injured when the police tried to break the protests. But eye witnesses who sent messages to Addis Standard magazine claim the number of death to be “at least two-three.”
Yesterday an eye witness in the city told Addis Standard that demonstrators were marching in two different directions: one towards the newly inaugurated conference center named Nile International Conference Center, locally known as Kebel 10, and the other towards the city administration office. According to this eye witness, protestors marching towards the city administration office forced their way into the compound, where an official was trying to deliver a message. “Gunshots were fired when protestors stormed the building and threw stones at the official and the building. Windows were shattered,” he said, he saw two young protestors “seriously” injured with police batons. Latest social media updates also allege gunshots were heard.
Residents of the city were protesting against the alleged leasing to private investors of an area locally known as “Meskel Square.” Other reports say the city administration took parts of “Meskel Square” for road expansion and that rumors that the area was leased to private investors were not true. Addis Standard cannot independently verify either the reports, or the pictures shown here.
So far our attempts to place a phone calls to the city’s police department and city administration offices was to no avail.
The ‘Meskel Square’ area is largely used by the city’s Orthodox Church followers to observe annual religious ceremonies such as “Meskel” (the Founding of the True Cross), colorfully celebrated on 26th of Sep. each year.
However, the protestors were not only Orthodox Christians but also Muslims who gathered at a nearby mosque to observe Friday prayers. Leaflets urging for mass public demonstrations were circulating throughout the city a few days prior to the rally, the eye witness qouted above said.
Photo Credit: Social Media (FB)