Four killed in Ethiopian sectarian violence
Reuters, Addis Abeba |Thu Oct. 5/2006 Four people were killed and many others were wounded in clashes between Muslims and Orthodox Christians in western Ethiopia, police said on Thursday of the rare outbreak of sectarian violence.Police said the violence took place on Sunday at Dembi town, northwest of Jimma, a coffee-rich Oromia province located some 346 kms (215 miles) west of the capital Addis Ababa.
“Four people were killed and many others were injured in clashes after Muslims in the region objected to Meskel celebrations by followers of the Christian Orthodox Church,” a police official said by telephone from Oromia.
“The incident which developed into sectarian violence was instigated by an individual as followers of the Christian church were preparing to set up a bonfire to celebrate Meskel holiday.”
Meskel is an annual celebration in commemoration of the finding of the True Cross, by the Bezantain Queen Helen.
There were reports that two Orthodox churches were torched, which the official did not confirm.
He said police had detained several people suspected to be involved in the violence.
Ethiopia has a population of 79 million people of whom 60 percent are Christians and the rest are Muslims and animists.
Meskel comes shortly after the Ethiopian New Year which begins on September 11. According to the Ethiopian calendar, this year is 1999.
The Meskel celebrations took place peacefully in most of Ethiopia on Monday.