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Four killed in protests in southern Ethiopian city: hospital

Youth from the Sidama ethnic group, the largest in southern Ethiopia, ride in the back of a truck at Hawassa city during celebrations over plans by local elders to declare the establishment of a breakaway region for the Sidama later this week, in Awasa, July 15, 2019. – The Sidama are planning to declare the formation of their own region on July 18, 2019, a move analysts warn could spark bloodshed, further aggravating the many political and security crises facing Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. (Photo by Michael TEWELDE / AFP)

Four people have died of gunshot wounds in the southern Ethiopian city of Hawassa, where protesters have been demanding the establishment of a breakaway state, a hospital executive said Friday.

“There are four people dead, three men and one woman,” said Zinaw Serniso, general manager of the Hawassa Referral Hospital.

One of the victims had been shot in the head while another was shot in the stomach.

The four were admitted on Thursday, three of whom died the same day, while the fourth, a woman, died on Friday.

The Sidama ethnic group, the largest in the southern region, has been agitating for their own semi-autonomous state.

Expectations were high they would declare their own region unilaterally on Thursday.

The Sidama Liberation Movement, which has been leading calls for the new state, accepted government demands for a delay pending a referendum before the end of the year.

But other parties were unhappy and protests erupted Thursday.

Regional police commissioner Tewodros Woldemichael told state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate that police were arresting people who had participated in the violence.

He acknowledged that unrest had spread outside the city.

“Efforts are underway to put under control the violence which started in Hawassa and later spread to the neighbouring Sidama woredas (district),” he said.

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