At least eight people were killed and 80 hurt in and around Addis Ababa when protests erupted after Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, a popular Ethiopian singer and musician, was killed.
Haacaaluu was shot dead, police said, in what Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed calls “an evil act.”
“This is an act committed and inspired by domestic and foreign enemies in order to destabilize our peace and to stop us from achieving things that we started,” he said.
Police said several suspects have been arrested, police commissioner Getu Argawhe told state media, but have given no further details, except that Haacaaluu was targeted.
Several Ethiopian cities erupted with rage, and three separate bomb blasts rocked the capital, Addis Ababa, killing several bystanders, police said.
Doctors reported hospital emergency rooms filled with stabbing and shooting victims.
Protests also erupted outside the U.S. embassy, prompting a security alert.
Haacaaluu was an Oromo activist, a member of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, which has a long history of being discriminated against.
The singer was a former political prisoner who became a national figure during anti-government protests that led to Abiy, a fellow Oromo, becoming prime minister in 2018.
Abiy won the Nobel Peace Prize last year for economic and social reforms in Ethiopia and working to settle the long-running conflict with neighboring Eritrea.
But he has also been challenged by the dozens of other Ethiopian ethnic groups jockeying for more land and power.
The coronavirus pandemic has forced officials to postpone the August elections until sometime next year.