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The BBC's Nita Bhalla
"The rioters say they were protesting in support of Addis Ababa University students"
 real 28k

Thursday, 19 April, 2001, 14:14 GMT 15:14 UK
Dozens dead in Addis riots
Students in church compound
Students sought refuge in churches and mosques
Hospital doctors say at least 39 people were killed and more than 250 people were injured on the second day of violent clashes in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

There were chaotic scenes on Wednesday as police clashed with young demonstrators who had come out in support of a student boycott of lectures.

Smashed-up car
The clashes led to anarchy all over the city
In a BBC interview government advisor Kinfe Abraham defended the authorities' handling of the demonstration.

He said the police had to use force to stop the rioters.

He added that dissident groups had taken advantage of the student protests to create confusion.

The BBC correspondent in Addis Ababa said that the city was returning to normal by Thursday morning, but there was still a heavy armed police presence on the streets.

Doctors at Tukirambessa, Menelik, Yekatit and Ras Desta hospitals told our correspondent that they were inundated with casualties on Wednesday.

Although they received help in the way of medicines and ambulances from the International Committee for the Red Cross, doctors say that that in replacing the blood lost by the injured, the hospital blood banks were now running short.

Policemen crossing over a main road
Police have responded heavy-handedly
Most of the dead and injured were high school students and unemployed youths, and almost all injuries were caused by bullet wounds.

The government has closed Addis Ababa University indefinitely and local schools have been shut for the next four days.

As a government deadline for the students to return to class expired on Wednesday, thousands of students, sought refuge in churches and mosques in the area.

They have since been removed by the police and their whereabouts are unknown.


On Tuesday and Wednesday, Addis Ababa looked like a city under siege as mobs of youths clashed violently with police, creating anarchy all over the capital.
students in church compound
'Unity is strength' is the students' slogan

Shops were looted in the Piassa and Mercato areas, cars smashed to pieces and buses set alight.

Throughout Wednesday, gun shots and the sirens of ambulances and police cars could be heard in the distance.

Many offices, shops, cafes and bars were closed and the streets were deserted except for hundreds of police.

Trucks carrying riot police moved from one area to another in an attempt to quash any uprising.

Youths join protest

Most of those involved in the violence were not students, but high school pupils and young unemployed men and boys.

The police responded to disturbances heavy-handedly, beating and shooting people.

The students say they are happy with the support the local community is giving them, but on Wednesday evening they called on people to exercise restraint as the situation deteriorated.

Universities and colleges throughout the country have been coming out in support of the students' demands.

Their demands include the removal of campus police, who they consider to be intimidating, and the resignation of two university vice-presidents who they claim are affiliated to the government.

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21 Mar 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Ethiopia
17 Apr 01 | Africa
'Brutal' attack by Addis police
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