Ethiopia bans weapons at upcoming religious gathering

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopia has banned weapons at the upcoming Irrecha religious festival in order to avoid the violence that killed several dozen people last year. The statement from the restive Oromia region came ahead of the October 1 thanksgiving gathering.

Lomi Beo, head of the Oromia Culture and Tourism Office, told The Associated Press on Sunday that armed police will be confined to the festival’s outskirts.

She said up to 1.5 million people are expected at this year’s celebration that will take place in the town of Bishoftu, 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of the capital Addis Ababa.

Last year security forces at the Irrecha gathering dispersed anti-government protesters with tear gas and gunfire, triggering a stampede that officials said killed at least 50 people. Activists said the death toll was higher.

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