Security forces in Ethiopia have detained more than 1,600 people under the October 9 state of emergency rule. They have also recovered over 700 looted weapons in the process, the state affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate (FBC) reports.
The state of emergency was imposed to quell a wave of anti-government protests in the Oromia and Amhara regions. Some businessmen have also been arrested for ‘‘trying to quit service by closing their shops,’‘ in the Amhara region.
The government has also confirmed the arrest of thirteen people who had called for a strike and also three teachers ‘‘who were also arrested for trying to obstruct the teaching learning process by abandoning school,’‘ FBC reported.
According to FBC, the Command Post established to implement the curfew together with public cooperation was crucial to some suspects surrendering and handing over looted arms.
The breakdown of arrests made is as follows:
- 93 suspects surrendered in north Gondar Zone, Amhara Regional State
- 110 people suspected to be key actors of the violence in Kelem Wolega zone have been detained
- 450 suspects were picked in Shashemene and another 670 in west Arsi zone both in Oromia region
- Another 302 suspects have been detained in the west Guji zone.
- 70 looted arms were handed over to security forces in the Oromia regional state
- Of 162 arms ransacked in Oromia, 88 were recovered by security agents and via voluntary return by the looters
- 92 modern and outdated arms and 8 pistols were also recovered in other areas.
- Of 513 arms supposedly looted in Oromia, the security forces had recovered some 384.
The government’s decision to impose the state of emergency has been strongly criticised by opposition activists, who accuse the government of becoming increasingly repressive. Western diplomats and governments also expressed concern over the curfew.
The government blames the violence on “anti-peace forces” and “foreign enemies,” specifically Egypt and Eritrea, even though Egyptian president Al Sisi denied any involvement in the protests.
Ethiopia has since November last year suffered a series of protests in two main regions – Amhara and Oromia. The attendant security clampdown has led to the death of hundreds of protesters.