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Update: Wolaita People’s Democratic Front says 21 people killed as uneasy calm returns

Sodo city. August 10/2020.

Addis Standard staff

Addis Abeba– In a statement it released today, the opposition Wolaita People’s Democratic Front (WPDF) said the number of people killed in various places in Wolaita zone has reached 21; countless others were also injured.

WPDF called for the immediate release of the arrested officials, activities, religious leaders, civil society organizations representatives and opposition party members. It also called for those who are responsible for the death of innocent civilians to be held to account.

At least 10 people were killed yesterday by security forces, according to Reuters, six of whom in Bedeti, a town 295 km (180 miles) southwest of Addis Abeba, Reuters quoted Temesgen Hilina, a senior official at Boditi health center, as saying. “They were shot in the head, abdomen, and their chest,” he said. “I was the one who gave them the first treatment and later they died.”

Nebiyu Marqosa, a resident of Sodo city, the capital of Wolaita zone, told Addis Standard that the army’s crackdown against protestors were intense in main towns of the zone including Boditi and Areka twons as well as in Sodo city. Among them were three people, including a child, who were shot dead in Sodo city in areas called Maedot, Maremiya and Qera (where the child was killed). Four people were also shot dead in Boditi town, and another one in Areka town. Nebiyu said that the the fatal shootings happened despite the nonviolent protests which only involved road blocking with rocks, burning of tyres and woods on the streets.

Footballer Aklilu Wana, in his 20s, was killed in his native city Bodeti.

Uneasy calm has returned in areas where tense situation were observed yesterday. According to Nebiyu large commercial and public institutes remain closed whereas small kiosks and medium restaurants in Sodo and Boditi were opened cautiously. All road transport means are still not functioning to and from all directions. Unlike yesterday, a large number of people in the towns are walking calmly while security forces are monitoring activities Nebiyu said. However, internet data has been disconnected as of yesterday afternoon. 

The statement from WPDF accused the federal government of detaining the officials and triggering the protests. “To stir chaos and pretend to appear peaceful is confusing,” the headline of the party said in reference to the federal government’s action to round up 28 people from the meeting they were attending.

Protests erupted in the city and its environs late on Sunday after the arrest by members of the federal police of at least 26 people [WPDF’s statement said 28], including Dagato Kumbe, Wolaita Zone administrator. The arrested officials also include members of the council for Wolaita statehood request and opposition party members from Wolaita National Movement (WNM) during a meeting they were attending inside the city’s Gutera conference hall. AS

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