Twenty-eight people were killed and about 100 others injured when protesters clashed with police in Eritrea, an opposition activist told dpa Wednesday, a rare show of dissent in the repressive east African nation.
‘The magnitude of the protests was very huge,’ said Nasredin Ali, from the country's largest opposition group, the Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization, based in neighbouring Ethiopia. There were ‘several hundred’ protesters, he said.
The protests began in the capital Asmara on Monday and escalated on Tuesday, he said, explaining that they came after the government tried to take control of a local Muslim school.
‘Following the refusal to hand over the school, some 40 people were arrested and this led to the massive protests that shook up the city,’ Nasredin said.
The city remained tense Wednesday, he added, with funeral ceremonies for those killed taking place and an increased security presence.
‘We have information that followers of all religions in the country are now ready to oust the dictatorial regime of Isaias Afewerki once and for all,’ he added referring to Eritrea's long-time leader.
But the country's minister of information, Yemane Meskel, downplayed the size of the demonstration and denied any deaths had occurred.
‘Small demonstration by one school in Asmara dispersed without any casuality hardly breaking news,’ he tweeted.
The US Embassy on Tuesday warned citizens to avoid central Asmara because of reports of gunfire.
Afewerki has ruled Eritrea with an iron first since 1993, with no free press, no national elections and curtailed religious freedom. Thousands of Eritreans flee the country to avoid army subscription, which can last indefinitely.Last updated: November 01 2017 06:30 PM
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