Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Students, Police Clash Again in Ethiopia

Ethiopian police stop Ethiopian students as they demonstrate outside Addis Ababa Tegbareed Industrial College in the capital's Mexico area, Tuesday, June 7, 2005. Police raided a technical college in Ethiopia's capital Tuesday, beating up students and firing rubber bullets on the second day of defiance of a government ban on demonstrations, witnesses said. Clashes between police and student demonstrators on Monday left a girl dead, seven people injured and hundreds arrested in protests against disputed election results that left parliament in the hands of the ruling party. (AP Photo)

Students throwing stones and police swinging clubs clashed for a second day in Ethiopia's capital Tuesday as authorities struggled to keep a lid on anger over what the opposition says was widespread rigging during last month's elections.

At a technical college -- the epicenter of Tuesday's violence -- police dragged bloody students from buildings, prompting construction workers and passers-by to join the melee. At least one student was shot and hospitalized in critical condition with a stomach wound.

"The police came running into the college, beating students and hitting them over their heads with their batons," said Liya Tsion, 17, a student of information technology.

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi banned protests in Addis Ababa immediately after the May 15 legislative election, a prohibition that had been widely obeyed. Meles' party won a majority of seats in the election, according to official results.

But the opposition's frustration with a poll they say was marred by fraud has grown in the weeks since. Anger among students boiled over Monday, leading to clashes with police that left a girl dead, seven people injured and hundreds arrested.

On Tuesday, riot police in an armored truck charged into the crowd of about 200 young people outside a technical college after the demonstrators threw stones at passing vehicles and called for the release of students detained Monday.

Officers beat up the protesters using butts of their rifles and batons, witnesses said. Some 100 students inside the college were also rounded up by riot police and forced to sit on the ground. Many students were escorted off the campus by police, holding bloody rags to their heads.

"It was very scary and (the police) were very aggressive and did not want to calm the situation down," said Liya, who was at the college when the raid took place. "It didn't last long, only five to 10 minutes, because we are young and they had guns and batons."

Opposition parties blamed the student unrest on ruling party attempts to defraud the public.

"It should be obvious that brute force can neither be a solution to the plight and predicament nor suppress people's legitimate concerns," opposition parties said in a statement. "Failure to do so is likely to broaden the unrest and instability to the national level."


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