Hundreds Arrested Amid Ethiopia Church Row – Lawyers

Hundreds of followers of the main Christian Orthodox church in Ethiopia have been arrested in recent days following tensions with the authorities, lawyers representing the religious institution have told the BBC.

The head of the church’s legal team, Ayalew Bitanie, said the number of those detained was more than 200.

Most of the detainees were held in the capital, Addis Ababa, and districts near the city but some of them have been taken to an army camp more than 200km (124 miles) east of Addis, Mr Ayalew said.

The BBC has not been able to independently confirm this claim.

Among those arrested are youth organisers and a popular preacher, Mr Ayalew told the BBC.

Some were brought to court in Addis Ababa during which police said they were investigating them for possible terrorism-related crimes and attempts to dismantle the constitutional order.

Tensions began after a breakaway group of clergy in the country’s Oromia region appointed bishops and the main church’s highest body accused the authorities of supporting the group.

There is an uneasy calm – after the church postponed rallies it had called – as the country prepares to host the annual African Union summit in Addis Ababa.

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