Tear gas fired as thousands mourn Ethiopia’s dam engineer

Ethiopian police fired tear gas on Sunday to keep back thousands of people who gathered to pay respects to the chief engineer of the country’s Grand Renaissance Dam, who was discovered shot dead in the capital Addis Ababa last week.

The death of Simegnew Bekele, who had become the public face of a project that is bound up in the country’s national pride and drive to prosperity, prompted an outpouring of grief.

Hundreds packed into a cathedral for the service, while thousands more stood outside, reports the BBC.

Police are still investigating the shooting, and it remains unclear whether his death was connected to the $4bn Nile dam project, which has led to tensions with Egypt over concern for the latter’s water supplies.

When news of Simegnew Bekele’s death emerged on Thursday (26 July), demonstrations erupted outside the state broadcaster’s offices in Addis Ababa, with people calling for "justice for the engineer".

According to the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporation, his funeral was attended by relatives and friends, as well as President Mulatu Teshome and Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen.

Image: Scene from the funeral of Simegnew Bekele, chief engineer of Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam, 30 July 2018 (Fana Broadcasting Corp via Facebook)

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