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Gunfire heard inside maximum-security jail near Addis Ababa

Media and activists report gunfire and blaze at jail where politicians are held, as anti-government protests continue.

jai
By Yilu Mo, yilu.mo@alleastafrica.com

ADDIS ABABA – Gunfire has been heard inside a maximum security jail near Ethiopia’s capital where politicians and protestors are being held as protests continue, sources said Sunday.

The infamous jail, Qilinti, on the outskirts of Addis Ababa and has for years been used to imprison opposition and rebel leaders largely from the Oromo ethnic group, among others.

The ethnic group which has long criticized the government for marginalization has been leading demonstrations against the government since November, demanding more political and economic freedoms.

Local media outlets carried photographs showing plumes of smoke billowing over a row of buildings before fighters put out the raging fire.

Fortune, a privately-run newspaper reported that there had been 20 casualties, but did not specify whether it meant dead or wounded.

A pro-government radio station reported that one person had been killed, and six injured. Opposition activists put the number of dead at between 20 and more than 30, citing family members of inmates.

Alleastafrica could not independently verify the reports.

Fortune, citing sources, reported that the fire had been deliberately started as part of an escape attempt and said that police had now taken control of the facility from prison officers.

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