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Clashes Continue In Ethiopia

One of Ethiopia's main opposition parties says there were clashes Friday between young people and police in a town south of the capital. This marks the fourth day of violent demonstrations to protest the results of May's elections.

A senior official with the opposition United Ethiopian Democratic Forces, Beyene Petros, tells VOA the clashes occurred in a town called Awassa more than 200 kilometers south of the capital, Addis Ababa.

"Sometime around mid-day, there has been some youngsters, who have been throwing stones at governmental police vehicles, and this has led to retaliation by the police," said Beyene Petros. "There seemed to be hot pursuit to apprehend the youngsters who were involved."

Mr. Beyene says things quieted down later in the afternoon.

News reports indicate that demonstrators in Awassa and several other small towns outside of the capital Friday were demanding the release of opposition members arrested during four days of violence, mostly in the capital.

At least 42 people have been killed and 150 injured since Tuesday.

Among those reportedly arrested was the head of one of the main opposition parties, the Coalition for Unity and Democracy.

Mr. Beyene says Addis Ababa was largely calm and quiet Friday. He explains that his party wants peace.

"We have been calling for restraint on both sides, and the government to desist using heavy hand or excessive power, force to calm the situation," he said. "This has been our consistent position."

On Thursday, Ethiopia's information minister told VOA the protests are illegal. He blamed the violence on what he called politically motivated people who have attacked police and damaged property.

Similar violence occurred several weeks after Ethiopia's May 15 elections, won by the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front.

At least 30 people were killed and scores injured when opposition members, supporters, and others protested the election results, accusing the ruling party of massive electoral fraud.

At the time, officials accused the opposition of fomenting the violence and going against the outcome of democratically held elections.