ADDIS ABABA - Residents of the Ethiopian capital were still reeling Friday in the wake of clashes between youths and police that caused 38 deaths and millions of dollars in material damage.
More than 250 people were wounded when demonstrations in support of striking university students degenerated into violence on Tuesday and Wednesday. Since Thursday, hundreds of arrests have been made, according to police.
"This city was sacked. Everything was turned upside down. Sometimes we had to fend for ourselves. Can't this be avoided?" wondered shopkeeper Abdulkarim Abulahi.
Pedestrians walk past a burned a municipal bus Wednesday, April 18, 2001 in the Merkato market area of Addis Ababa, after two days of demonstrations in the Ethiopian capital apparently sparked by a weeklong protest by university students demanding greater academic freedom. (AP Photo/Eyob Alemayehu)
Business in Mercato, Africa's largest open-air market, was gradually recovering, but telephone lines damaged during the violence had yet to be repaired.
Shops in the northern Piazza district were beginning to open again, with some trepidation. On Wednesday a shoe store and several small jewellers were thoroughly looted.
"Such losses, such losses!" complained a worker in a electronic goods store that was also looted.
Municipal workers have been busy cleaning up the mess of the clashes, which pitted security forces against secondary school children and other youths.
Among this mess were some 15 torched vehicles, some of them public buses.
On Thursday night, state television blamed the violence on "hordes of hooligans". Hospital sources said Friday there were few students among the dead.
Addis Ababa had not seen such public disturbances for nine years, when similar clashes, according to an official toll, left one person dead.
The city was calm Friday. The government has alleged there were political ramifications to the students' protests and has blamed the opposition for fomenting "anarchy and lawlessness."
"We should not be implicated," Lidetu Ayalew, leader of the opposition Democratic Party, told journalists Friday, before, according to his party, being arrested by police.
"The students know what they are doing. They are not being used," said the party's deputy leader, Hailu Arraya.
According to the president of the independent journalists union, Kifle Mulat, about 100 newspaper vendors, who tend to be teenagers, were arrested on Friday.
Federal police have been placed on red alert to prevent more "theft and destruction", the national news agency said Thursday.
Addis Ababa University was Thursday closed indefinitely.
Copyright © 2001 AFP