ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — One thousand people have been arrested this month after violence linked to protests led to the burning of factories and vehicles, the mayor of a town just outside Ethiopia's capital said Tuesday.
This East African country declared a state of emergency this month after nearly a year of sometimes deadly anti-government protests demanding wider freedoms. More than 800 protesters have been killed, Amnesty International said Tuesday.
Businesses have been a target of protesters over suspected government links, hurting Ethiopia's reputation as one of Africa's best-performing economies.
The town of Sebeta saw almost a dozen factories and dozens of vehicles burned. Its mayor, Ararsa Merdesa, told The Associated Press that some of the 1,000 people arrested have been released, but many remain detained and under investigation.
Ararsa said only 50 of those arrested were local and the rest came "to cause the violence."
The violence came shortly after more than 50 people were killed in a stampede when police tried to disperse protesters in the Oromia region.
The Amnesty International statement said at least 600 protesters have been killed in Oromia since November, and 200 in the Amhara region.
"Over the last 11 months, security forces have killed hundreds of peaceful protesters, arrested tens of thousands and mistreated those in detention. This has led in part to the anger that has spilled over in recent weeks," said Felix Horne, Human Rights Watch's lead researcher on Ethiopia.
"Deploying more of those same abusive security forces to restore law and order is unlikely to improve long-term stability," Horne said, instead urging the government to address protesters' grievances and allow space for opposition voices.