The U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia said Wednesday that an American agricultural expert has died after a roadside attack on the outskirts of Addis Ababa. The AP reports the woman is the first foreign citizen to die in Ethiopia’s anti-government protests since they erupted in November 2015.
The woman, whose name has not been released, was traveling to the town of Burayu in the Oromia region when she suffered head injuries from a rock thrown by unidentified individuals. The agricultural team she belonged to was not under police protection and did not request it, according to a regional government statement.
The attack came as Ethiopia continued a three-day mourning period that began after clashes at the annual Irreecha festival, an Oromo thanksgiving celebration, ended in scores of deaths on Sunday.
In response to Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn’s call for unity amid mourning, Oromo activists called for five days of rage, al Jazeera reports, to protest the Irreecha deaths. Ethiopia remains on edge, with tightened security and heavily armed patrols amid ongoing clashes and arrrests.
Internet access and communications are disrupted, as is often the case in recent months as authorities try to quell dissent and limit opposition leaders in their organization activities.
Global concern for the 30 million Oromo living in Ethiopia has increased, following a year in which at least 500 hundred Ethiopians died in violent clashes with security forces, according to Human Rights Watch – a number widely believed to be underreported, even before the Irreecha tragedy.
The Oromo protests began a year ago, when students resisted the government’s proposed plan to expand Addis Ababa into Oromia lands. They were joined by Oromo from all walks of life as the protests evolved into a highly visible struggle against bitter and longstanding injustices, rooted in accusations of systemic ethnic discrimination.
Image: U.S. State Department