Police attacked citizens who organized alternative festivities to honor Adwa Victory Day on Thursday, which brewed tensions in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa.
The day commemorates Ethiopia’s founding emperor Menelik II’s army’s triumph over Italian invaders in the renowned Battle of Adwa in 1896.
As hundreds of protesters were ejected from a Menelik II-themed municipal square, police sprayed tear gas inside a historic Orthodox Christian church where some people had taken cover. Locals say that police had also shut all entrances to the square, which one said was unusual.
Unusually for this specific occasion, the formal ceremonies were conducted at Meskel Square, the city’s central center. Key army and government representatives were present.
According to reports, several injured persons were taken to hospitals. The National Movement of the Amhara, an opposition group, said one of its members was killed by gunfire fired by security personnel.
The government communications office accused people of wanting to “create disturbances” in a statement. It acknowledged that several persons including those who were present for religious services, had been hurt inside the church.