After almost a year of anti-government protests, Ethiopia on Tuesday (Oct. 11) admitted that the death toll from police crackdowns and deadly stampedes could exceed more than 500 people. The admission came a few days after the government declared a country-wide six-month state of emergency, and blamed external forces for trying to break up the nation of over 100 million people.
The continued protests and the recent emergency is a tipping point for one of the fastest rising economies in Africa. The Oromo and Amhara communities, who together make up over 61% of the country’s population, have been protesting against land grabs and human rights violations.
Despite the unprecedented admission, the Ethiopian prime minister warned against what he called “violent extremist armed” groups, adding that his government would deal with them “in a proportionate manner.” Ethiopia’s information minister Getachew Reda had earlier in the week blamed groups in Eritrea and Egypt for contributing to the unrest.
Egypt’s foreign ministry, however, had denied an early October media report stating that it was supporting the Oromo protests and later affirmed that it was not intervening in the country’s internal affairs.