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The Ethiopian government on Friday disclosed the deployment of military personnel to control widespread deadly protests across major towns in central and eastern parts of the country.

The deployment of military forces across various towns in Ethiopia’s largest Oromia regional state as well as the neighboring Harar region and the Dire Dawa special administrative town followed violent protests, which reportedly claimed dozens of lives since the protests erupted on Wednesday morning.

According to the Ethiopian Ministry of Defense, the military forces were deployed in major towns that are Ambo, Bishoftu, Bale Robe, Adama and Modjo in the Oromia region as well as Dire Dawa and Harar towns.

As protests went violent across different towns, state-run media outlets also on Friday confirmed civilian deaths in connection with the widespread deadly protests, while some media reports also on Friday claimed the death toll to have reached as far as 27.

The protests erupted in the early hours of Wednesday shortly after a prominent Oromo activists and media entrepreneur Jawar Mohammed posted an alleged incident to remove his security details that was initially assigned by the Ethiopian government upon Mohammed’s return to the East African country from exile a year ago.

The activist also claimed the move to remove his security details to have a hidden agenda, saying that “the plan was to remove my security and unleash civilian attackers and claim it was a mob attack,” Mohammed said in a Facebook post on Wednesday morning.

The incident posted on Mohammed’s Facebook page, which has more than 1.7 million followers, soon triggered youths across the Oromia region as well as Dire Dawa and Harar towns to block roads as part of their protest against the alleged move to remove Mohammed’s security details.

On Friday, Major-General Mohamed Tessema, Defense Indoctrination and Public Relations Director at the Ethiopian Ministry of Defense, told reporters that the military forces were deployed in Ambo, Bishoftu, Bale Robe, Adama, Modjo, Dire Dawa and Harar towns, where the protests reportedly turned violent, eventually killing dozens as well as the distraction of properties.

Noting that delay in the deployment of military forces to have caused damages, Tessema also said that the military personnel are presently working to restore the normal functioning of roads that have been blocked due to the protests.

According to Tessema, the military forces, who are said to continue their efforts until normalcy restored in the affected tows, are working in cooperation with local security officers, residents, youth and traditional leaders.

Ethiopia’s Oromia region had been a hotbed of incessant protests since the second half of 2016, which eventually led to the resignation of the East African country’s former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn in February last year.

The protests, however, calmed down since Ethiopia’s current Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who is an ethnic Oromo, took the chairmanship of Ethiopia’s ruling coalition – Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). Ahmed, eventually, was appointed as Ethiopia’s Prime Minister on April 2, 2018.

Amid the latest widespread protests in Oromia region as well as the neighboring Harar region and the Dire Dawa special administrative town, political analysts are presently expressing their concern over the possible impact of such recurrent violent protests on the East African country’s overall security. Enditem

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