At least 60 civilians are feared dead when Oromo thanksgiving,Ireecha, festival turns into a bloodbath after Agazi forces fired first tear gas and then live ammunitions on civilians earlier today in Debre Zeit (Bishoftu) – just some 60 kilometers to the south east of Addis Ababa. Eye witnesses accounts, who were at the scene when the Agazi went into killing spree, seem to suggest that the number of causality could rise.
Victims are reportedly from all age groups -children, elders and youth- men and women. Some died of the bullet wound. Others apparently fell to a deep well in the area. Still others were suffocated to death in a stampede like situation.
Agazi forces fired tear gas on what Ethiopian Satellite Television report estimated to be over a million people crowed, trickled in from different parts of Ethiopia to celebrate Oromo Irrecha festival. Aljazeera report estimated that two million people attended Irrecha. Aljazeera cited AFP photographer to report “15-20 unmoving bodies, some of whom were clearly dead.”
Eye witnesses who spoke to ESAT on the phone say tear gas was thrown and live ammunition was fired at the crowed. From the account, stampede that claimed lives was apparently created as people try to escape from tear gas and from being fired at by Agazi forces.
What triggered Agazi killing?
Citizen journalists report on social media, eye witness accounts and report from Ethiopian Satellite Television suggest that people who gathered to celebrate Irrecha showed protest sign, one that Olympic Marathon Silver Medalist Feyisa Lilesa showed as he crossed the finishing line, peacefully and chanted slogans that condemn the ruling Tigray People’s Liberation Front government.
Slogans chanted reflected solidarity of Oromo with the rest of Ethiopians. “There will not be conflict between Amhara and Oromo.” “There will not be conflict between Oromo and Guraghe” – are some of the slogans.
In this year alone, the number of deaths in Amhara and Oromia regions of Ethiopia surpassed over a thousand people.
It is to be recalled that just days before Irrecha event regime in power tightened security in the town of Debre Zeit – perhaps an indication that the regime made preparation to take the measures it took this morning.