Two people were killed and several others were injured in a stand-off between security forces and participants of Timket festival in Burayu town in the Oromia special zone surrounding Finfinne, reports said.
Eyewitnesses told DW Amharic that parishioners of St. Mary church in Burayu town who were escorting the Tabot ( a sacred replica of the Ark) from Addis Abeba back to the town for the Timket festival were prohibited from entering the town carrying the tricolor flag: plain green, yellow and red with Orthodox Church logo. According to the witnesses, the standoff quickly intensified when security forces fired rubber bullets and live bullets into the crowd killing two people. Several people including children and the elderly were injured in the stampede, the witnesses said.
The witnesses attribute the attack to Burayu town police while some swore that local communities launched an attack on the crowd. A member of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church (EOTC) media board blamed the government for failing to deploy both regional and federal security forces to the area beforehand.
The head of the peace and security bureau of Burayu on his part said that Addis Abeba police alongside federal police and Ethiopian National Defense Forces were at the scene trying to contain the situation with regional police and the local militia. While giving his account of the incident he said, “The youth from Addis Abeba tried to enter the town with the unlawful flag prohibited by the law”. According to him, the youth entered the town before the Tabot arrived and threw stones at the security forces and their vehicles. He went on to claim that the youth tried to take weapons from security forces, “Eventually shots were fired. We don’t know who was the first to open fire.” He commended the residents of Burayu town for averting further crisis.
The security head added, “We are saddened by the loss of lives, the perpetrators will be held accountable.” The federal government also vowed to investigate the incident and prosecute the perpetrators.