Two students killed, five injured in student

Two students killed, five injured in student

protests in western Ethiopia

Fri Mar 29, 6:37 AM ET

 

  By ABEBE ANDUALEM, Associated Press Writer

 

  ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia - Security forces battled with student protesters, leaving two dead and five

  injured, in four cities in western Ethiopia, a regional official said Friday.

 

  Juneidi Sado, the president of the autonomous Oromiya region, said elementary and high school

  students "went on the rampage" in four cities this week, beginning in Ambo, 125 kilometers (80 miles)

  west of the capital. The protests spread to three other cities along the main highway through Oromiya,

  he said.

 

  "The students first tried to stage a demonstration in Ambo without the necessary permits and then

  stoned police and militia forces who had tried to stop the illegal demonstration," Juneidi said. "School

  and other buildings ad vehicles were damaged during the clash with the security forces."

 

  One student was injured in Ambo and five were arrested Monday, he added. Similar demonstrations

  were held in Nekemt and Ghimbi and about 100 students were arrested in Nekemt. The last protest

  was on Wednesday in Ghimbi.

 

  "Two students were killed and four others were injured in Shambu when the students attempted to

  disarm a police officer who had been hit by stones and was lying on the ground," he said.

 

  The students were protesting what they consider the indifference of the regional and federal

  governments to the plight of farmers in the region who have been hard hit by falling prices for coffee

  and other agricultural products since October, he said. Juneidi claimed the opposition Oromo

  Liberation Front, which has declared war on the government, was behind the student unrest.

 

  "The OLF has been trying to infiltrate students, particularly high school students, to advance its hidden

  agenda under various pretexts," he said, adding that those responsible would be hunted down and

  tried.

 

  It was impossible to reach the students or front officials because of poor telecommunications in

  Ethiopia.

 

  Juneidi said the government has reduced the tax on coffee from 56 to 15 Ethiopian cents (7 to 2 U.S.

  cents) and was attempting to export more to the United States and other international markets. The

  Oromiya administration has also earmarked 40 million birr (dlrs 4.5 million) to buy agricultural products

  from the farmers to stabilize the market, he added.

 

  (aa/clt)