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Ethiopia declares three days of national mourning

Ethiopia Oromo Festival Stampede Deaths
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Ethiopia has declared three days of national mourning over the death of 52 people following a stampede at a thanksgiving festival of the Oromo, one that promotes peace and tolerance.

Flags lower to half-mast for the coming three days, the Government Communication Affairs Office said.

Flags lower to half-mast all over the country and at the Ethiopian embassies and consular offices around the world.

In a related development, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has expressed his deepest condolences over the loss of lives that occurred at the annual Irrecha (thanksgiving) celebration yesterday.

The festival, which he said has a special place in the Oromo people, was peaceful early in the morning until violent forces tried to turn the situation into chaos, which came at a time when the Aba Gadas were trying to preside over the festival. As a result he said 52 people have died falling from cliff around the lake where the celebration has started, while also an equal number of people have been injured.

The Premier said, the Oromo Aba Gadas have been making all efforts to colorfully mark the festival that promotes peace and tolerance, adding that a number of works have been underway to get the celebration registered by the UNESCO.

Describing the situation as "tragic" Prime Minister Hailemariam, on behalf of his government and of himself extended his condolences over the death of lives and expressed his deepest sympathy to families and relatives of the victims as well as the people of Ethiopia.

He said, "The incident shouldn't have occurred at a festival which promotes love and tolerance," while also maintaining that the government will bring those responsible to Justice. He also urged the people to support government's ongoing peace and reform activities.

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