Families mourn the death of one of the victims identified as Michas Thomas. Picture: social media

Mahlet Fasil

Addis Abeba, February 05/2020- Two civilians were killed following a police shooting at around midnight last night in Addis Abeba, at an area commonly known as 22 mazoria, behind St Gabriel hospital. One of he two victims is identified as Michias Thomas, according to various social media posts.

A resident of the area who spoke to Addis Standard said there was a “heavy [gunshots] at around midnight” which sustained for at least two hours with short intervals in between.

There is a continued presence of federal and city police in the area until the publication of this news.

According to the resident who doesn’t want to be quoted by name, there was a confrontation between the police and Bole Kifle Ketma administration on one side and a group of people on the other after the later wanted to build a church in an open area not far from where last night’s shooting occurred. “The police and Bole Kifle ketam administration have ordered representatives of the group who wanted to the church to dismantle what was already built and clear the area,” the resident said.

In a Facebook post published a while ago, Takele Uma, deputy mayor of Addis Abeba, confirmed the death of the two people and said that such tragic outcomes were not what the city administration expected in its efforts to handle religious-related issues.

Officials at Bole Kifle Ketma administration were “in a meeting” since early this morning and were unavailable for comments. And Bole Kifle Ke police bureau directed media inquiry to the city’s police commission, who are also unavailable for comments despite repeated attempts from Addis Standard.

But according the resident, the police used teargas to disperse a crowd of people who gathered when the midnight confrontation ensued. The two people were killed as a result of the police shooting.

Tilahu Fekadu, Bole Kifle Ketema administer, told journalist Elias Meseret that the vacant space where the church was planned was a vacant place left for green area and that due to the presence of another church nearby it was not allowed to build another church. He also said that discussions with those planning to build the church, priests and members of the police didn’t bear fruit. He also said that the police operations to clear the area took place at night not to exacerbate the confrontations and claimed that a group of people were brought in from outside the city by those who claimed the place for the church.

But residents are shocked that the police picked the dead of the night to conduct its operations, those who spoke to journalist Elias expressed their dismays. AS

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