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Ethiopian Police Clash With Muslims Before AU Summit Meetin

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By William Davison
(Bloomberg) — Hundreds of people were injured and
arrested when Ethiopian police clashed with Muslims in the
capital, Addis Ababa, where African leaders are gathering for a
summit, and one person may have died, an Islamic committee said.
The violence yesterday, which involved guns, sticks and
tear gas, occurred in five areas of the city after federal
police broke into the city’s Awalia Mosque compound in order to
disrupt preparations for a meeting tomorrow, Ahmedin Jebel,
representing a mosque community group, said today in a phone
interview.
“They broke the door and entered and started shooting at
Muslims,” Ahmedin said from the capital. “Many were attacked
and they arrested almost all of those there.” After a call to
prayers, Muslims who gathered in response to the incident were
involved in further clashes, he said.
Some Ethiopian Muslims, who make up 34 percent of a
population of 94 million according to the CIA World Factbook,
have been protesting for eight months at mosques about alleged
government interference in elections of Islamic leaders. The
government has accused the protesters of including extremists
who want to turn Ethiopia into an Islamic state. The meeting
being planned by the mosque was partly about the elections
issue.

Policemen Injured

Seventy-two people were arrested and six policemen and 10
civilians were injured when a group tried to create a “civil
disturbance” at Awalia by blocking roads and shouting political
slogans, State Minister of Communications Shimeles Kemal said by
phone today from the capital. Police may have used tear gas
though they didn’t open fire and there were no fatalities, he
said.
“The policemen sustained injuries from rocks thrown by
protesters,” he said. “They were trying to spread the
disturbance to other mosques but the police intervened and got
it under control.”
The group was trying to create “havoc” to disturb the
African Union summit, Shimeles said. “There is no threat” now,
he said.
People were gathering today at the capital’s largest mosque
in the Mercato area to demand the release of all those arrested
yesterday, said Ahmedin.
Four people were killed in clashes with security forces in
southeastern Ethiopia on April 27 when a crowd tried to free a
Muslim preacher who had been arrested, the government said. Ten
policemen were injured, the police station and a post office
burned down and 24 people were arrested during the incident in
Asasa in the Arsi Zone of Oromia region, the government said at
the time.
African heads of state and other dignitaries are arriving
in Addis Ababa this weekend to attend a two-day African Union
summit that begins tomorrow.

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