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Update - Ethiopia police, opposition supporters clash, 5 people killed


Nov 1, 2005 (ADDIS ABABA) — Ethiopian riot police clashed with dozens of opposition supporters in Ethiopia’s capital Tuesday, shooting dead at least five people and wounding some 13 others in renewed protests against the disputed May 15 elections, health workers said.

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An Ethiopian policeman beating a university student using the butt of his assault rifle as another armed policeman moves in, in the capital of Addis Ababa on Monday, June 6, 2005. (AP).

Most of the dead were shot in the chest and the wounded suffered gunshot wounds on their arms and legs, said doctors at the Black Lion Hospital who did not want to be identified because of fears of retribution.

An Associated Press reporter saw Red Cross ambulances bring in five victims, including a woman who was shot in the face and a man shot in the back. Some of the wounded later died in hospital. Security forces kicked journalists out of the facilities before they could talk to the victims.

The clashes occurred a day after police arrested and revoked the licenses of 30 taxi drivers who took part in renewed protests against the disputed polls. Protests against alleged electoral fraud in June saw police kill at least 42 people.

"There has been gunfire and rioters are clashing with the police. There are riot police who have been stoned, but as yet we have no reports of any casualty," Adam Melaku, head of the independent Ethiopia Human Rights Council, said before doctors released casualty figures.

Information Minister Berhan Hailu blamed the violence on the main opposition party, adding that he had no details on casualties.

"The CUD has called for these demonstrations," Berhan said. "It is part of their plan to disrupt the peace and stability in the country. The incident today is a continuation of their previous disruption."

Opposition leaders weren’t immediately available for comment.

The riots began on the day the government threatened legal action against the main opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy, or CUD.

The party has been boycotting Ethiopia’s lower house of parliament, saying it wants a resolution of questions about the results of the May parliamentary election before taking up its seats.

The party has 109 seats in the 547-member Council of People’s Representatives. Opposition parties have claimed that hundreds of their supporters and members have been arrested in the past two months.

"Taking the CUD to court for its stance against the constitution is timely," the government said in a statement.

Riots subsided later Tuesday after hundreds of riot police reinforcements were deployed on streets strewn with broken glass and smoking tires. But Western diplomats said gunfire erupted again in another part of Addis Ababa Tuesday afternoon.


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