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ethiopia

State of emergency declared in Ethiopia

A six-month state of emergency has been declared in Ethiopia by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

Anti-government protests have been raging since last year, with demonstrators upset over the government taking farmland belonging to the Oromos, the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia, for development purposes. Earlier this month, activists say more than 500 people were killed during the Oromo holy festival Irreechaa, with police firing bullets and tear gas, but the government puts the official death toll at 52, with all dying in a stampede.

The state of emergency, the first in 25 years, took effect on Saturday. On state-run television Sunday, Desalegn said "vital infrastructure, businesses, health and education centers, as well as government offices, and courts have been destroyed," and he promised reforms and to open talks with the opposition. Local media is reporting that in Oromia, the largest of Ethiopia's nine regional states, mobile internet service is down and social media is blocked.