MEKELLE, 9 February 2021 – Soldiers opened fire, killing one person during anti-government protests Tuesday in Mekelle, capital of Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region.
The protests were timed to prevent a visit by religious leaders from the capital, Addis Ababa, sending the message that life was back to normal in Tigray.
Mostly young men participating in the protests set up barricades of burning used tires and threw stones at soldiers some of whom opened fire with live ammunition in at least one location of the town.
“One dead body already arrived” with gunshot injuries, a doctor at Ayder Referral Hospital, told reporters on the phone, adding that the victim was “a young man”.
There were fears Tuesday night that several other young men who sustained bullet wounds refused to go to a hospital, afraid of being targeted once admitted for treatment.
Tear gas was also fired in nearly all other locations where protests were organized.
Shops and other businesses shutdown Tuesday in Mekele in support of a “ghost town” called to show anger at the federal government in Addis Ababa.
President Sahle-Work Zewde visited Mekele over the weekend, telling residents that the Ethiopian Prime Minister was “working to fully restore peace” to the region.
An armed conflict has been ongoing in Tigray ever since Ethiopian federal troops were sent into the region last November 4.
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali accused fighters of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) of attacking an army base in Tigray, killing 50 soldiers in a raid during which the TPLF reportedly stole weapons.