Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (CNN)At least 81 people are dead in Ethiopia in massive protests that erupted after the killing of singer and activist Hachalu Hundessa, local police commissioner told state media.
Slain Ethiopian activist and singer buried as 81 killed in protests
The 34-year-old singer was shot by unknown gunmen in Addis Ababa on Monday, sparking demonstrations in the capital that have spread to several towns in the Oromia region of the country.
Three police officers and 78 civilians, including an unnamed uncle of the musician, were among those killed during the "mayhem" in the town of Ambo, Oromia region police commissioner, Bedesa Merdasa said in a press conference broadcast on state media on Wednesday.
Thirty-five people were also arrested during the protests, including prominent Oromo political activist Jawar Mohammed, federal police commissioner Endeshaw Tasew said on Tuesday night.
Jawar is a former ally of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who is also an Oromo, but has become a critic of the government. He was held during a standoff between police and protesters who were tryng to stop Hachula's corpse from leaving the capital, according to Tasew. Journalist Eskinder Nega was also arrested, Tasew said, giving few details.
The motive of Hachalu's killing remains unclear but an investigation is underway and several suspects have been arrested, the police commissioner said.
Reaction to his death has spread as far as the United States. Ethiopians in Minnesota gathered and wove their country's flags in demonstration on Wednesday.
Hachalu, a legendary figure in the Oromo ethnic group, was part of that movement and 2015 protests that eventually led to political reforms in Ethiopia in 2018.