Unidentified gunmen killed the Ethiopia country manager of Nigeria’s Dangote Industries on Wednesday after he was attacked in the restive Oromiya region while returning to the capital from Ethiopia’s largest cement factory, officials said.
Oromiya, which surrounds the capital Addis Ababa, has been plagued by violence for more than two years, fuelled by a sense of political and economic marginalisation among its young population. Hundreds have died in unrest that was triggered in 2015 by demonstrations over land rights, broadened into rallies over freedoms and spread to other regions.
Dangote’s cement factory was inaugurated in 2015 and protesters have torched its vehicles at demonstrations. The company has been in negotiations with regional authorities over creating more jobs at the plant.
“The company’s director died following an attack by unknown gunmen that took place while he was returning to Addis Ababa from the factory alongside two company employees,” a government statement said.
“Security forces are currently pursuing the assailants,” it added. The statement called on residents in the area to help gather details.
In a tweet on Thursday, Fitsum Arega, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s chief of staff, identified the slain manager as Deep Kamara, and said two Ethiopian colleagues were also killed.
Fitsum said the entire government was “shocked and saddened by the barbaric killing” and pledged to “bring the perpetrators to justice”.
Representatives of the company in Nigeria were not immediately available for comment.
Ethiopia remains under a state of emergency imposed in February, a day after prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigned. Former army officer Abiy has since replaced him, promising “a new political beginning” including more democratic rights.
Thousands of detainees have been released since January, including journalists and dissidents who have been jailed for a variety of charges including terrorism.