Two killed as soldiers block mourners from Ethiopian singer’s funeral

Addis Ababa-Two people were shot dead and seven others injured Thursday when soldiers opened fire on mourners seeking to attend the funeral of a popular Ethiopian singer, whose assassination has sparked violence that has left around 100 dead.

Hachalu Hundessa, a member of the Oromo ethnic group, Ethiopia’s largest, was shot dead by unknown attackers in the capital Addis Ababa on Monday night, fuelling ethnic tensions threatening the country’s democratic transition. His music gave voice to Oromos’ widespread sense of economic and political marginalisation during years of anti-government protests that swept Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to power in 2018.

The funeral, broadcast live on the Oromia Broadcasting Network, took place in Hachalu’s hometown Ambo, west of the capital. Despite the shockwave provoked by his death, only a few hundred attended the short but emotional service in a football stadium.

A medical official in the town and an opposition member said that security forces had blocked roads leading to the funeral, and fired at crowds trying to make their way there. “There has been an operation today related to the funeral. Nine people have been shot and two of them have died in our hospital,” said the official at the Ambo referral hospital on condition of anonymity.

Filenbar Uma, a member of the opposition Oromo Liberation Front in Ambo, described security forces shooting as “people were kept from going” to the funeral.

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