By Staff Reporter
February 5, 2020 (Ezega.com) -- Three people died and 17 others wounded amid clashes between security forces and members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church over ownership issue of a plot of land in Addis Ababa.
The clashes occurred at a place called 22 Mazoria at midnight on Tuesday around 12:30 PM when members of the federal Liyu (special) police attempted to demolish a small church built on a disputed plot of land which the Orthodox Church claimed ownership.
In a press briefing on Wednesday, Takele Uma, the Deputy Mayor of the Addis Ababa city administration said the action of the police force to try to demolish the church at midnight is unacceptable and was done without the knowledge his administration and that of the Church.
According to the mayor, the land was held illegally and seven people, including government officials, were arrested on suspicion of inciting the clashes. However, Takele did not mention the government officials by name.
The deputy mayor vowed to bring all the perpetrators to justice and provide the necessary support to the families of the victims.
It is unknown how an operation of this magnitude and against such a sacred place, regardless of the legal issue, can go without the knowledge of the government. As is becoming routine these days, elected officials are pleading ignorance for the most basic things they are supposed to know and with no consequences so far. Judging by the comments flooding online media, many Ethiopians are questioning if some of their leaders have any consciousness or sense of decency at all.
Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church Abune Matias called for the immediate arrest and legal actions against perpetrators.
The Ethiopian church claimed the police force had demolished the church which housed arcs of Saint Gabriel and Saint Arsema.
Addis Ababa Synod Priests Administration Head of the Church Woldeyesus Seifu said the church has fenced the land for more than a decade and waiting for ownership title deed from the city government.
Eyewitnesses told Ezega.com that members of the police force used tear gas to disperse members of the church who refused the police entrance to the church.
Ezega.com also learned that gunfire was heard the whole night sending terror to nearby residents. Businesses, all the way from Golagol building to a place where the construction Adey Abeba stadium is taking place, have been closed.
Residents of the area accused the police officers of firing bullets and tear gas at Christians who later were subjected to stampede. A police car was reportedly burnt amid the clash.
All the 17 people injured were reportedly due to gun bullets. The bodies of the deceased were laid to rest in the presence of thousands of people.
The funeral took place on Wednesday with thousands of people in attendance.
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