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News update: Security, intelligence task force says three people killed, 63 security forces injured at Grand Anuwar Mosque security crackdown

Photo: DW Amharic

Addis Abeba – The Ethiopian Joint Security and Intelligence Task Force said three people were killed today at the Grand Anuwar Mosque in Addis Abeba and “some people were injured.” There has been “an unspecified loss of property”, whereas “63 police officers and members engaged in security work have suffered light and serious injuries.” the task force said.

Prominent Islamic Scholar, Ustaz Abubeker Ahmed, was the first to denounce security forces for the “inhuman act” and urged passage for the victims to be taken to medical centers. “It is an inhumane act to mercilessly shoot at the innocent Muslim people who came out of their houses to pray the Friday prayers at the Grand Anuwar Mosque. I urge the security forces to stop the violent action being taken against innocent people who came out for prayers with empty hands. You should open the way for an ambulance to enter the place so that our brothers who are sheltered in the mosque and who are mercilessly shot and fallen in and around the mosque can be immediately taken to the medical center,” Ustaz Abubeker said.

Late this evening, the Addis Abeba Islamic Affairs Supreme Council said that one person was killed after security forces fired at worshipers attending Friday prayers. “Sheikh Sultan Aman Eba, and the top leaders have been working to stabilize the situation since they arrived at Anuwar Mosque”, the Council said, adding that the leaders have helped “one martyr and the injured” to be taken to hospital. It also said that “the leaders left the Mosque’s premises after escorting the worshipers who had come to Anuwar Mosque to offer Friday prayers, and who were trapped inside the Mosque’s premises due to the incident, to their homes,” indicating that worshipers were unable to move out of the Mosque’s premises.

In the statement it sent to state media a while ago, the task force blamed the events, in which security forces used force against civilians, as “efforts” by “anti-peace forces to hijack the legitimate demands of the followers of the faith and spread the unrest to other areas to achieve their own evil goals.” Without mentioning names, the task force, which consists of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF), the Federal Police Commission, and Information Network Security Agency (INSA), further said that these forces were put under control “by the joint efforts of the security forces, the Muslim people and the religious leaders.”

The task force warned that “it will continue to enforce the law that it started to protect the peace and security of the city and the country.”

“Since peace is the foundation of the teachings of all religious institutions, and realizing that there is a system that can handle any question raised by the Muslim population in a peaceful manner, according to the law, the joint task force calls on the Muslim people to do their part as citizens by supporting the efforts of the security agencies to protect the peace and security of the city, without being used by anti-peace forces,” the task said.

At least two civilians were killed last week after Friday prayers and more than 40 people, including police officers, suffered minor and serious injuries during a crackdown against protesters in and around the Grand Anuwar Mosque who were protesting against the demolishing of 19 Mosques by Oromia regional state security in the newly established Shaggar city, formerly the Oromia Special Zone Surrounding Finfinne. The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said 140 individuals had been arrested in the aftermath of the protests, and urged their release “unless there is sufficient proof of criminal act and credible charges to be filed against them.”

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