* Protesters say their land seized to build factories
* Government wants to industrialise agrarian nation
* Demonstrations have broadened to political complaints
By Aaron Maasho
ADDIS ABABA, Oct 5 Crowds attacked and partially
destroyed an Ethiopian factory run by Turkish textile firm
Saygin Dima, its manager said, as a wave of protests about land
and political rights raged on in the Oromiya region near the
The assault on Tuesday wrecked about a third of the plant in
Sebeta, general manager Fatih Mehmet Yangin told Reuters, days
after a stampede at an anti-government demonstration in the
state killed at least 55 people.
Oromiya, south of the capital, has been a focus for
industrial development that has fuelled Ethiopia's sturdy
economic growth, but locals have protested at what they say are
seizures of their land to build factories and housing blocks.
The death toll from a wave of unrest and clashes between
police and demonstrators over the past year or more runs into
several hundred, according to opposition estimates. The
government says such figures are inflated.
"A large crowd attacked the factory," burning the weaving
section and three vehicles, said Yangin.
The plant, which employs about 1,000 people about 35 km
southwest of Addis Ababa, opened in 2012 and exports yarn and
fabric - one of the sectors Ethiopia is seeking to develop.
LAND AND POLITICS
The attack on a factory will cast a shadow over Ethiopia's
ambitions to draw in more investment to industrialise a nation
where most people still rely on subsistence farming, and have
been struggling with a severe drought in the past two years.
To draw in business, the government has been building new
infrastructure, including an electrified railway connecting the
capital of the landlocked nation with a port in neighbouring
Djibouti, which was inaugurated on Wednesday.
At least seven foreign-owned flower farms in Ethiopia's
Amhara region, another area where protests have flared, were
burnt to the ground or partially damaged in the political
violence at the start of September.
Protests in Oromiya and other regions have increasingly
turned to broader political complaints, in a country where
rights groups and opposition figures accuse the government of
stamping on political freedoms, a charge officials deny.
The opposition failed to secure a single seat in a
parliamentary election in 2015, down from just one seat in the
The Committee for the Protection of Journalists called for
on Tuesday for the authorities to free Seyoum Teshoume, the
latest case of a blogger who is critical of the government being
detained. Seyoum writes for the website Ethiothinktank.com.
Officials could not immediately be reached for comment, but
the government says it only detains people who threaten national
security and says it guarantees free speech.
(Additional reporting by Asli Kandemir in Istanbul; Writing by
Edmund Blair; Editing by Andrew Heavens)