ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopia's government said Friday that 11 factories and dozens of vehicles had been damaged in attacks by what it called "anti-peace forces," while the U.N. human rights office requested access to areas where anti-government protests have raged.
This East African country has seen months of demonstrations demanding wider freedoms. An American woman was killed this week in a rock attack by protesters, and more than 50 people were killed in a stampede when police tried to disperse a protest during a massive religious event.
Some businesses have been targeted because of suspected government links, putting even more pressure on the government as it tries to promote itself as one of Africa's top-performing economies.
The state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate said the attacks on factories in Sebeta town on the outskirts of the capital, Addis Ababa, affected more than 40,000 workers. It said textile, plastic and bottled-water companies have been targeted.
A resident of Adama in the restive Oromia region said he has heard gunshots on the city's outskirts. There was no transportation in and out of town, and many shops were closed.
"It feels like a war zone!" Yosef Girma said.
A spokesman for the U.N. human rights office on Friday again urged Ethiopia's government to allow independent observers to access the regions of Oromia and Amhara where most of the protests have occurred. He also called on protesters to renounce the use of violence.
The spokesman, Rupert Colville, also spoke out against the government cutting off internet access in parts of the country, and he urged the release of people detained for expressing their opinions.
"Silencing criticism will only deepen tensions," Colville said.