Ethiopia Fire Kills 23 in Prison

Ethiopia Fire Kills 23 in Prison Ethiopia Fire Kills 23 in Prison

At least 23 inmates have died after a fire at an Ethiopian prison where anti-government protesters are reportedly being held, the government has said. A government statement said 21 died of suffocation after a stampede while two others were killed as they tried to escape. Some local media have disputed the account, citing unnamed witnesses who said prisoners were shot by the wardens, BBC reported. There has been an unprecedented wave of protests in Ethiopia in recent months. The identity of prisoners has not been made public. Sustained gunfire could be heard coming from Qilinto Prison, on the outskirts of the capital Addis Ababa, after the fire broke out on Saturday, local media reported. There have been numerous protests in the Oromia region by members of the country’s largest ethnic group since November 2015. Many Oromo activists are being held at the Qilinto facility, according to pro-opposition media. New York-based Human Rights Watch said more than 400 people have been killed in clashes with the security forces in Oromia, although the government disputes this figure. Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has blamed “anti-peace forces” for the violence.