National mourning begins in Ethiopia

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Ethiopians are observing three days of national mourning after at least 52 people died during a protest at a religious festival in the Oromia region on Sunday.

There is a dispute over what caused the deaths.

Soldiers look on at protesters   Soldiers look on at protestersSoldiers look on at protesters

A statement on Ethiopia’s state broadcaster said the mourning is to “commemorate innocent citizens who lost their lives because of the violence instigated by anti-peace forces”.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn earlier blamed rioters for the “mayhem” which led to a stampede.

Opposition activists say the panic was caused when security forces fired teargas and bullets into the large crowd which had gathered for a thanksgiving ceremony.

They also say that the death toll is far higher than the official figure of 52.

There has been months of tension in Ethiopia’s Oromia region after a series of protests in which Oromo people have been complaining of political and economic marginalisation.

Large crowd at festival
Hundreds of thousands gathered for the festival on Sunday, some of whom made political gestures

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