Religious Clash in Ethiopian Town

October 20, 2006

Source: BBC News

Five people have been killed in western Ethiopia in violence between Christians and Muslims. It is the latest in a series of religious clashes near the town of Jimma, around 450 km (280 miles) from the capital, Addis Ababa. Last month 10 people were killed and more injured in four days of fighting between rival religious groups. Hundreds of homes were destroyed in the violence, as well as three religious centres.

Federal Police spokesman Demsashe Hailu confirmed the five deaths over the weekend. "The crisis was touched off by [a] few individuals who were attempting to create discord between the people of Jimma by using religion for their cheap political ends," Reuters news agency quoted him as saying. Police had made several arrests and were searching for more suspects, Mr Demsashe said.

Aid workers said trouble had been brewing in the area for some time, the BBC's Amber Henshaw reports. Reports suggest the situation got out of control when Christians wanted to celebrate a religious holiday and local Muslims tried to stop them.

The violence between Christians and Muslims will come as a shock to many Ethiopians, our correspondent adds. The two faiths normally live harmoniously side by side, but local analysts believe this could now be changing as a result of the war in Iraq and the conflict in Somalia.