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Thursday, July 14, 2005

Group: Dozens Killed in Ethiopian Election Protests

CNN.com -- Independent investigators have confirmed that at least 40 people were killed and 74 others were shot and wounded by police during last month's protests against suspected electoral fraud in Ethiopia, a human rights group said Wednesday.

Seventeen people are missing after the three days of protests that started on June 6 as officials released provisional results of May's parliamentary elections, said Adam Melaku, executive secretary of the Ethiopian Human Rights Council.

Hospital sources had reported that 36 people were shot dead during the protests.

Also, six police offers have been arrested in connection with the death of a newly elected opposition leader in southern Ethiopia.

"We believe there could be more casualties, but these were the only ones we could definitely confirm," Melaku said. "We believe 17 people are still missing, although we don't know if they are dead or whether they are still being held."

Police arrested and later released thousands of demonstrators.

Authorities say they are investigating complaints of vote-rigging and irregularities.

On July 8, officials released results for more than half the seats, showing the ruling party and opposition in a virtual tie. Results for the remaining seats, however, have been delayed as officials check claims of fraud.

The ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front and its smaller political allies have won 158 seats to 148 seats for the opposition coalitions in the 547-seat parliament.

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