Ethiopia Protesters Attack Dangote Cement Plant After Deadly Stampede

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Written by Kevin Mwanza

Protesters in Ethiopia have attacked and burnt machinery and trucks at Dangote Cement factory in Ada Berga, a company owned by Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote.

Dangote opened the plant in June, last year. It cost $600 million to build.

They also set-ablaze a court-room and government-owned vehicles and allegedly freed prisoners after torching a police station in the Bule Hora area, Fana Broadcasting Corporate reported.

The demonstrators were protesting against the deaths of about 100 people in a stampede on Sunday when police officers opened fire and lobbed teargas at celebrants during the annual Irrecha festival in Bishoftu on Sunday, Nigeria Daily News reported.

The latest wave of violence from the Oromia protests is likely to scare away investors in one of Africa’s fastest growing economies.

The attack on Africa’s second biggest cement producer comes barely a month after a similar attack on Esmeralda Farms Nederland, a Dutch-based flower farm in Amhara state, DutchNews.nl reported.

The government linked the attack to the ongoing Oromia protests. An irrigation system, borehole that also supplied locals with water, packaging halls, and storage rooms were destroyed in the assault.

The company estimated the damages at $7.8 million and shut-down in operations in the horn of Africa nation. The attackers also vandalized other flower-farms owned by Italians, Belgians, Indians and Israelis.

The Oromia protests started in November last year as the Oromo community, the largest tribe in Ethiopia protested against planned expansion of the administrative boundaries of Addis Ababa, the capital into their region.

The government stopped the plans in January but the demonstrations went on as the community protested against economic and political marginalization by the government, which is dominated by Tigrayans, a minority tribe.

They have since spread from Oromia into Amhara state, which is home to the Amhara tribe, second largest ethnic group in the nation.

At least 500 people have been killed in the violent clashes since they began, according to data by Human Rights Watch.

The government has refuted the figures on the death toll. Opposition politicians have also been imprisoned on framed up charges of supporting terrorism.