Ethiopia shuts internet amid regional violence

Published: August 08, 2018 15:44:07 | Updated: August 13, 2018 16:08:20


File photo (collected)

Authorities have cut off Internet access in eastern Ethiopia amid an outbreak of violence in the region, two local residents said on Wednesday.

The residents, one speaking from Oromia region and the other from the city of Harar, said the connection had been down for three days.

Ethiopian government spokesman Ahmed Shide did not immediately respond to a phone call and a text message seeking comment on the shutdown, which was reported on Tuesday by digital rights group Access Now.

Violence broke out on Saturday in Jijiga, the capital of Ethiopia’s Somali region, with mobs looting properties owned by ethnic minorities. Security officials shot dead four people, said a witness.

The government said unrest had been stoked by regional officials.

The residents in Oromia and Harar said they were concerned the violence could spread from the Somali region into other parts of eastern Ethiopia, in part because tit-for-tat ethnic reprisals were one facet of the unrest that roiled the country for three years until the resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn in February, reports Reuters from Nairobi, Kenya.

Since replacing Desalegn in April, Abiy Ahmed has turned politics and the economy on its head in the country of 100 million people but continuing ethnic violence poses a challenge to his reforms.

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