At least 90 people have been killed in Ethiopia after the death of a popular singer led huge protests in the Oromia region, human right groups and police said.

Thousands of Oromo people had gathered in and outside Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa to protest against death of one of their singers, Hachalu Hundessa, who was shot dead on Monday night while driving.

Irate youth using machetes and light and other crude arms had started attacking several neighborhoods in and outside capital, prompting clashes between them and other residents.

Laetitia Bader, Human Rights Watch’s Horn of Africa director, in an interview with VOA said the government needs to order security forces not to use excessive force or to carry out arbitrary arrests including against protesters, as they’ve often done in the past.

“It’s absolutely key that the Ethiopian authorities respond to this by acting urgently to reduce tensions and to ensure that security forces do not make what could be a combustible situation worse,” said Bader.

Henok Gabisa, a professor of practice at Washington and Lee University’s School of Law also told VOA that Hachalu’s music was “the soundtrack of the Oromo revolution.

“Hachalu is way more than a musician and way more than an artist,” Henok said. “Hachalu is an activist-artist who always stood his ground. Who spoke truth to power way long ago when it was difficult to do.”

His death came about a week after he appeared on a satellite television channel, the Oromia Media Network, where he criticized Ethiopia’s leadership and spoke out against the mass incarceration of Oromo youth.

Police say 35 people, including prominent politician Jawar Mohammed, have been arrested.

The motive for Hachalu’s killing remains unclear.


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