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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 June 2005, 15:30 GMT 16:30 UK
Ethiopians shot dead in protests
Body at the Black Lion Hospital in Addis Ababa
Many of the dead and injured had gunshot wounds
At least 22 Ethiopians have been shot dead after police fired on protesters who accuse the ruling party of fraud in last month's elections.

The Black Lion hospital in the capital, Addis Ababa, was full of those injured in the clashes, while crowds of relatives wept outside.

Hundreds of students have been arrested this week for defying a protest ban.

Final results have not been announced three weeks after the polls, as reports of massive fraud are investigated.

Opposition blamed

The police fired live rounds to disperse stone-throwing protesters in the Mercato and Piazza markets in the city centre.

Reporters said they had seen 11 bodies in the Black Lion hospital, four of which had bullet wounds in the head.

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When the crowd dispersed in fear, they started shooting at them. There was blood everywhere
Yosef, Addis Ababa

Doctors at two other hospitals reported a further 11 deaths.

The government said it regretted the loss of life, which it blamed on looters, incited by the opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy.

"CUD, which is the perpetrator of the violence, will have to take responsibility," Information Minister Bereket Simon told the Reuters news agency.

The CUD has denied being behind this week's student protests.

Mr Bereket said that seven buses had been destroyed and businesses and banks damaged by looters.

He denied the police had used excessive force to restore order.

Leaflets

Doctors said they were treating at least 100 people, many of whom had been shot. Some of those who agreed to speak to journalists denied taking part in the demonstrations.

"I was looking for my son, I opened the door and I was shot," Ateneyesh Mamo, a mother of two who was shot in the pelvis, told the AFP news agency.

Ethiopian students demonstrate outside Addis Ababa Tegbareed Industrial College in the capital's Mexico area
Protests began on Monday when some 500 students were arrested

"The police were running at the crowd, firing shots," said Getu, a 22-year-old labourer.

Earlier, taxi drivers had gone on strike, joining protests started by students on Monday.

The BBC's Mohammed Adow in Addis Ababa says thousands of leaflets had been distributed, calling for the strike.

On Tuesday, students threw stones at the police who responded by storming a technical college and arresting about 100 people.

The students were beaten with batons and rifle butts by police, who also fired shots in the air, witnesses said.

On Monday, about 500 people were arrested and a girl died in clashes which began when students defied the 30-day ban on protests which was announced after the poll.

Human rights

The British Foreign Office has warned citizens travelling in Ethiopia to be cautious and says that tension is spreading to other towns and cities.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is a member of the UK-led Commission for Africa, which promises to improve governance and respect for human rights in Africa, in return for more western aid, debt relief and better terms of trade.

According to provisional election results, the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and its allies have won 320 seats so far, giving it a majority in the 547-member parliament.

The opposition have, however, won almost 200 seats - a huge gain from the 12 they had in the previous parliament.

EU observers have voiced concern over irregular vote counting and biased reports by the state-owned media.


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