Source Pravda.Ru

Ethiopia: fire was opened on demonstrators

Security forces opened fire on stone-throwing demonstrators Wednesday in &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/main/2002/04/22/27856.html ' target=_blank>Ethiopia, killing more than 20 people in a third day of protests over election results, hospital officials said.

Hundreds more were injured, many with gunshot wounds, doctors said.

The government said its security forces acted to restore order and that it did not immediately have casualty figures.

An Associated Press reporter saw 11 bodies at the capital's main hospital, at least four with gunshot wounds to the head, and was told they were only some of the casualties. Doctors at two other hospitals reported another 11 dead.

Information Minister Bereket Simon, who is also the ruling party spokesman, said he did not have an accurate death toll but blamed the opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy for the protests, tells the Washington Post.

The protests have erupted despite Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s move to ban demonstrations immediately after the May 15 &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/world/2001/12/17/23828.html ' target=_blank>legislative election. Meles’ party won a majority of seats in the election, according to official results. Opposition parties say there was widespread fraud and intimidation, charges the ruling party denies.

Today’s shooting began after the army’s special forces troops arrived at the central business district where protesters were throwing stones.

One of the injured, who refused to give his name because of fear of retribution, said the army fired on fleeing people. He said he was caught up in the protests, and was not taking part in it.

The Addis Ababa city police also shot at protesters, said another person lying on a hospital trolley after emergency treatment. “The police were running at the crowd, firing shots. I got shot in my leg,” said the 22-year-old daily labourer who identified himself by one name, Getu. “I was just trying to get home to avoid the trouble.”