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Ethiopian Addis Abeba Around bole at night controversy

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The whereabouts of several other university students is not known. Both Abel and Gudata told Addis Standard (often looking at their shoulders and still scared) that they are frantically trying to locate their missing friends.

Students from other cities in the country are the hardest hit. Sheltered at an Orthodox Church, around 50 students who were even scared of showing their faces told Addis Standard’s reporter Mahlet Fasil that they can’t leave the town for lack of money and police’s control in the city exists. Upon checks on busses leaving town anyone with a student ID is haunted and returned back to the city. All of them say they couldn’t withdraw the money their parents have sent them from different banks operating in the city. Berka Gudata, a bank employee, confirmed their story. “We have no network in the bank. They ask as to help them, but there is nothing we can do.”

In the last three weeks Ambo and its surrounding turned itself into a hot spot of protest when residents from several villages surrounding the city joined students to express their anger both at the violent way the security personnel dealt with the protestors and the fundamental question – the Master Plan. In follow up calls (when available) with eye witnesses in the city, people tell of the death of protesters at the hands of the police (no accurate figures are available); and last Saturday a grenade exploded near Abebech Hotel in the center of the town. No causality was reported. Security officers patrolling the town are extremely vigilant; they routinely stop individuals on the street (as was the case with our reporter Mahlet Fasil, who was stopped from taking pictures and was told by a plain clothed security officer that she looked “a stranger and should go back to where you came from as soon as possible.”)

The southern part of Ambo, off the rough road leading to Wonchi Creator Lake and further south to Woliso town (administratively known as South-west Shewa zones) in local areas such as Ameya and Geldu news that both regional and federal police have lost control of the villages is rife. Lemma Gaddisa, an eye witness describes “carnage, looting and vandalism committed both by security officers and people who are total strangers to the area.” “The people in the area have destroyed roads leading to villages to prevent security officers entering the villages,” Lemma said on the phone.

Further afield to the north of Ambo in an area called Ginde Beret, another eye witness who is sheltering at relatives in Ambo town and says he is wanted by the police for helping print banners told Addis Standard he has seen a fierce battle between residents and the police. “I saw many people shot and lying on the road.” He also talked of “ransacked government offices, cadres badly beaten and cars and tyres burned on the street.”

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