Killing of Ethiopian protest singer sparks unrest

Youths enraged by the killing of a popular singer burned tyres in Ethiopia’s capital and took to the streets of other cities, as unrest spread through the political heartland of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Abiy called for calm following the killing of Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, an Oromo musician whose political songs were the soundtrack of a protest movement that helped bring Abiy to power two years ago. In a tweet, the prime minister offered condolences and promised an investigation.

Footage posted on social media appeared to show large crowds surrounding a car said to carry Haacaaluu’s body, slowly walking to his home town of Ambo, about 100 km west of Addis Ababa.

Other pictures appeared to show demonstrators pulling down and beheading a statue of former emperor Haile Selassie in the Oromo city of Harar. Reuters could not verify the authenticity of the pictures or video.

A TV station owned by a prominent Oromo opponent of Abiy, media tycoon Jawar Mohammed, said police had arrested Jawar after his bodyguards refused to disarm. Bekele Gerba, a leader of an opposition Oromo political party, was also arrested, the station said.

The station was forced to broadcast by satellite from the U.S. state of Minnesota after police raided its headquarters and detained its staff, it said.

“They did not just kill Hachalu (Haacaaluu). They shot at the heart of the Oromo Nation, once again !!…You can kill us, all of us, you can never ever stop us!! NEVER !!” Jawar, whose supporters have been involved in violent clashes with the police in the past, posted on his Facebook page before his arrest.

Addis Ababa city police commissioner Getu Argaw told state media late on Monday that Haacaaluu had been shot dead at around 9:30 in the evening. Some suspects had been detained, he said, giving no further details.

Source: Reuters