May 25, 2002
12 to 15 people were killed in a clash between the rioters
and security forces who were attempting to defend the
security of the people and their property,'' Bereket
said. ''A few others were injured.''
''The security forces were forced to fire after all
effort to disperse the people who are trying to force
their way into Awasa town failed,'' he added.
a member of the Ethiopian Federal Parliament who comes
from the affected southern region said up to 200 demonstrators
may have been killed in the Friday shooting.
have information from the region that up to 200 demonstrators
may have been killed in a volley of automatic gunfire
from police,'' Beyene Petros told Reuters by telephone
in the capital Addis Ababa.
Beyene said hospital sources in Awasa and the adjacent
town of Yirgalem told him the bodies of 20 people killed
in the shooting were lying in mortuaries.
said Awasa town had been put under a dusk to dawn curfew
from Friday and people were not venturing into the streets.
reports quoted some local sources as saying 60 people
were killed when the army opened fire on about 3,000
peasants from rural areas around Awasa who were demanding
''their basic human rights.''
But Bereket said the media reports were exaggerated.
located 250 km (150 miles) south of the capital Addis
Ababa, is the capital of the Southern Nations and Nationality
state, one of the country's nine federal regions.
is administered by representatives of the local ethnic
group, the Sidama. Plans by Ethiopia's central government
to shift control of the town to the regional government
have angered the Sidama people living in and around
opposed to the decision of the regional administration
organised jobless youth and hooligans to go on the rampage
throughout the town,'' Bereket said.
Awasa killings were the worst since the police killed
39 students and wounded about 250 others during university
riots in Addis Ababa in April of last year.
killings sparked an outcry but police said they had
opened fire when the protests degenerated as thousands
of jobless youths joined in, hurling stones at state-owned
buildings, torching cars and looting shops to protest
over academic and political rights.