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American Killed in Ethiopia Protests was California University Researcher

FILE - Demonstrators protest gesture during Irreecha, the thanksgiving festival of the Oromo people, in Bishoftu town, Oromia region, Ethiopia. More than 50 people were killed in the violence.

An American researcher was killed in Ethiopia after protesters began throwing rocks at the car she was riding in, officials from the University of California, Davis, said.

Sharon Gray was a postdoctoral researcher with the plant biology department at the university. She was in Ethiopia for a meeting regarding her research and traveling in a car outside the country’s capital, Addis Ababa, when she was killed Tuesday.

University officials said another researcher with the plant biology department who had been traveling with Gray in Ethiopia was not injured in the attack and is headed back to the U.S.

The U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia confirmed that a U.S. citizen had been “struck by a rock and subsequently died from her injury,” but did not release a name.

Andy Fell, a spokesman for the university, said Gray had been working at UC Davis since 2013, and her husband is also employed by the university.

Violence is not uncommon at political protests in Ethiopia, which are driven largely by anti-government sentiment. At least 55 people were killed during a stampede at a religious festival Sunday caused by skirmishes between police and protesters.

Hundreds of people have died during the massive anti-government protests since November 2015, but Gray is the first foreigner to be killed.