Ethiopians were locked out of social media on Tuesday as new clashes in the Oromia region left at least 15 people dead, with images of dead bodies and gunshot wounds circulating on Facebook and Twitter.
Both services were shut down in at least some regions of the Horn of Africa nation, according to Associated Press reports. That followed a fresh outbreak of violence in a part of Ethiopia that’s seen unrest for more than two years.
The Addis Standard reports that angry marchers took to the streets Monday to protest the death of a civilian killed by the Liyu police, a much-despised regional special police force operating in the Somali region of Ethiopia. A regional official also implicated national defense forces in the shooting deaths that followed the protests.
Originally intended as a counterterrorism force a decade ago, the Liyu role has evolved into a repressive militia within the Oromia and Ogaden regions. In April, Human Rights Watch said it had documented human rights violations at the hands of the Liyu and pressed for an independent investigation by international experts – one among others that the Ethiopian government has refused.
Another round of regional violence flared up in September with dozens of people reported dead, and hundreds detained in the territorial border town of Awaday. This new incident occurred in Chelenko, where in addition to people killed by security forces there are at least a dozen wounded, some seriously.
Although the conflict is often described as ethnically inspired violence between the Oromo and ethnic Somali, rooted in a longstanding land dispute, the reality is complicated by the role of militia and special police groups operating in the region.