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Ethiopian police crackdown on anti-Saudi protest

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopian police used force Friday to disperse hundreds of people protesting against targeted attacks on Ethiopians in Saudi Arabia.

Police units blocked roads to prevent the protest at the Saudi Arabia Embassy from growing. Some two dozen people were detained. The police also forced some journalists to delete photos. Many foreign workers in Saudi Arabia are fleeing or are under arrest amid a crackdown on the kingdom's 9 million migrant laborers. Close to 500 Ethiopians have been repatriated. Last weekend, Saudi residents fought with Ethiopians, and video emerged of a crowd dragging an Ethiopian from his house and beating him.

The government's spokesman, Shimelis Kemal, said Friday's demonstration was broken up because organizers had not sought permission to hold such a protest. He also said many of the demonstrators carried anti-Arab messages that sought to "distort" strong relations between Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia. He declined to say how many people were arrested and expressed regret for police actions against journalists.

One protester, Asfaw Michael, who was beaten, said he didn't understand why Ethiopia wanted to shield Saudi Arabia from the protest given the anti-Ethiopian actions inside Saudi Arabia.

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