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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 November 2005, 17:33 GMT
Mass release from Ethiopian jails
Ethiopian protester in Germany
The killings have led to protests by Ethiopians around the world
More than 3,000 people arrested in election protests in Ethiopia earlier this month have been released, state media reports.

Some 8,000 people have now been freed since the protests organised by the opposition, claiming that May's elections were rigged.

There are no official figures for the number who remain in custody but diplomats say it is at least 3,000.

At least 46 people were killed when security forces broke up the protests.

Every day, hundreds of women turn up at the International Committee of the Red Cross offices in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, looking for missing sons and husbands.

Police screening

"My two sons aged 17 and 21 were arrested nine days ago. I have no information about them and I am worried," a 50-year-old woman, battling tears, told the AFP news agency.

"There are many people who are coming because they are worried about their family members. They have no idea where they are," the ICRC's spokeswoman Anna Schaaf said.

Doctors treating injured protesters
It is not known how many have been arrested
The ICRC is one of the few organisations allowed prison visits in Ethiopia but says it has not yet had access to those detained during the 1 November protests.

Police said those released were not directly connected with the violence at the protests.

Information Minister Berhan Hailu said the releases would continue but the investigations could take some time.

"The police have to screen them first," he told the AP news agency.

The leadership of the opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) remains in custody.

Last week, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said the CUD leaders were likely to face treason charges for trying to overthrow the government.

If found guilty they could face the death penalty, but the prime minister said personally he did not support it.

The international community has called for the immediate release of all political detainees.

Mr Meles' Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front won a majority in polls but the opposition gained many seats.

The opposition is made up of the two broad groupings - the CUD and the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces, which unlike the CUD, have taken up their parliamentary seats.


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