Ethiopia: Four injured, a school torched in Arsi Negele

Unrest in Arsi Negele city, 220 km south of Ethiopia’s capital, left four people seriously wounded and resulted in arson attacks on several businesses on Friday (today).

A fatal brawl in a bar triggered a disturbance today in Arsi Negele, west Arsi zone of Oromia region, in which several houses, businesses and a school were ransacked and set in fire. Four people suffered serious injuries, two of which after the federal police and army took charge of the city.

According to multiple sources who spoke to HornAffairs, the brawl in a bar on Thursday night was between the owner and a guest resulted in the death of a third person. Some say the deceased got killed while trying to mediate the brawl.

One source informed HornAffairs, the deceased was is called Abu Shebo, an Oromo and a teacher at the government-owned Arsi Negele Preparatory school, while the owner of the bar is named Dereje and from a different ethno-linguistic group.

The incident did somehow served as a trigger for today’s mayhem. A large out-of-town crowd was also in the city, since Friday is the weekly market day for the rural kebeles surrounding Arsi Negele.

A mob attacked the house of Dereje and his friends and continued to other properties. Dereje was already in police custody.

Several homes and businesses were ransacked and set in fire, according to residents. At least four people had suffered injuries and admitted to hospital throughout the day. 

Photo - Arsi Negele, Oromia, Ethiopia
Photo – Arsi Negele, Oromia, Ethiopia

A private-owned school Fekade Ezgi School was ransacked and set in fire. The school is built and run by Fekade Dejene, a veteran teacher and philantrophist, who was recently awarded as “Bego Sewe” (Good Samaritan), an Ethiopian initiative.

“The laboratory, the library and the offices were set in fire”, Fekade Dejene described to HornAffairs by phone. Adding that, “the computer room was ransacked damaging about 30 computers”.

The school was attacked by mob around noon time. However, the school had already sent students home early morning, observing the tension in the area.

A milk processing firm and a house owned by Getachew Emeru was similarly targeted by a mob. Molotove cocktail bottles were used to set the in fire the house, which was estimated more than two million birr, Getachew Emeru told HornAffairs by phone. The house was partially damaged while a machine donated by USAID to the firm and estimated about quarter a million birr was fully damaged, he added.

The chaos ended in mid afternoon when a contingent of the federal army arrived. The federal police accompanied by the army in restoring calm to the city. However, it was not clear when it arrived. Some say, the federal police, same as the Oromia police, was in the city throughout the day but were inactive until the army arrived.

Tear gases and bullets were used by the federal security officers. Two individuals admitted to Negele General hospital today were hit by bullets. One was hit on the head, while another was hit on his hands, an officer of the hospital confirmed to HornAffairs. (The officers wouldn’t disclose further details regarding the identities of the patients and the injuries).


Daniel Berhane

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