ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia

Oromo ethnic people in Ethiopia on Saturday celebrated Irreecha, or thanksgiving holiday, in the country’s capital.

Thousands of Oromo people, clad in colorful traditional clothes, were seen flocking to the capital’s downtown as part of a procession to thank the God.

Irreecha is celebrated annually in Ethiopia around end of September to mark the end of the rainy months of June, July and August and the onset of harvesting season.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who hails from the Oromo ethnic group, said Irreecha is a celebration that features peace, unity and life.

The celebration, however, saw much lesser turnout of people due to the coronavirus fears.

There was heavy security presence in the capital city after the police in Oromia Region said they detained more than 500 individuals on suspicion of activities to disturb the rituals.

In 2016, following a year of anti-government protests, security forces shot tear gas and discharged firearms as crowds gathered for the Irreecha festival, sparking a stampede that left possibly hundreds dead, according to Human Rights Watch.

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