Clashes, looting in eastern Ethiopia: residents

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Ethiopian Federal Police officers detain a woman suspected to be carrying explosives during the welcoming ceremony of Jawar Mohammed, US-based Oromo activist and leader of the Oromo Protests, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on August 5, 2018. (REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)
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Ethiopian Federal Police officers detain a woman suspected to be carrying explosives during the welcoming ceremony of Jawar Mohammed, US-based Oromo activist and leader of the Oromo Protests, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on August 5, 2018. (REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)
Updated 05 August 2018
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Clashes, looting in eastern Ethiopia: residents

  • Witnesses said mobs were emptying bank vaults and torching churches in the volatile Somali region of eastern Ethiopia
  • Ethiopia’s defense ministry on Saturday issued a statement saying it would take “necessary measures” to restore order

ADDIS ABABA: Residents in the volatile Somali region of eastern Ethiopia on Sunday reported riots, looting and ethnic attacks, as the US embassy in Addis Ababa advised its citizens to avoid the region.
“Everybody is inside his home. Nobody is leaving,” said a resident of the regional capital Jigjiga who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“So many of my neighbors... have lost their hotels, their shops their homes, everything. Each and every house has lost everything,” added the resident, who said he was in danger because of his Amhara ethnicity.
It was unclear what triggered the unrest which began on Saturday but photos circulating on social media showed Ethiopian military vehicles deployed in Jigjiga.
A second resident who belongs to Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, said a Somali family was sheltering him from the feared Liyu regional police force, which rights groups have repeatedly accused of abuses.
He added that mobs were emptying bank vaults and torching churches in the majority Muslim region.
The US embassy in Addis Ababa said Saturday the Ethiopian military had “seized control of key highways, government buildings, and the airport in Jijiga.”
“Media continue to report sporadic on-going unrest in various parts of Ethiopia’s Somali region. While the unrest appears to be centered around Jijiga, there are reports of incidents of violence in Dire Dawa and other areas of the Somali region,” it added on Sunday in another travel warning.
“US Embassy personnel are avoiding the region until the situation returns to normal and we encourage Americans to do the same,” it said.
Ethiopia’s defense ministry on Saturday issued a statement saying it would take “necessary measures” to restore order in the region.
“The ministry will not sit by and watch,” it said in a statement carried by the state-affiliated Fana media outlet.
Ethiopia is divided between ethnically demarcated federal regions that are intended to give different ethnicities a degree of self-rule but have been criticized for exacerbating ethnic tensions.
Somali is Ethiopia’s second-largest region and one of its most unstable.
Around 1.1 million people fled their homes last year when ethnic fighting broke out along its border with neighboring Oromia region.
Last month, Human Rights Watch accused the regional government of running a secret prison where it tortured, raped and starved suspected members of a separatist group.


Indian court eases firecracker ban even as pollution soars

Updated 7 min 33 sec ago
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Indian court eases firecracker ban even as pollution soars

  • Diwali festival is on November 7
  • Every winter, air pollution in Delhi soars as cooler air traps harmful particles from the various emissions

NEW DELHI: India’s top court on Tuesday eased a ban on fireworks for a major Hindu festival despite air pollution in New Delhi and other cities again reaching danger levels.
The Supreme Court, which last year banned firecrackers for the Diwali festival, rejected a new call for a ban in the capital amidst growing concern over pollution.
Firecrackers set off for the Hindu festival of lights add to the toxic mix created by farmers burning crop stubble, diesel engines, coal-fired power plants and industrial emissions.
The World Health Organization in May listed 14 Indian cities, including Delhi, in the world’s top 15 with the dirtiest air.
Ahead of Diwali on November 7, the Supreme Court ordered that only reduced smoke fireworks — so-called ‘green firecrackers’ — could be sold and that this must be through licensed traders. No fireworks can be sold online, it said.
The court has also set a two hour window from 8:00pm to 10:00pm for the lighting of crackers on Diwali.
“It needs to be enforced strictly,” Gopal Sankarnarayan, a lawyer for the petitioners told NDTV television.
Last year, the Supreme Court suspended the licenses of all firecracker sellers in Delhi for one month because of the pollution crisis which leaves the Indian capital’s 20 million residents gasping for clean air during the winter months.
However, many ignored the ban and purchased crackers illegally or brought out old stocks.
Every winter, air pollution in Delhi soars as cooler air traps harmful particles from the various emissions.
Smog has climbed in recent weeks as temperatures have fallen and smoke from burning wheat fields in neighboring states has reached the capital, mingling with urban pollutants.