Image: Protesters run from tear gas being fired by police during Irreecha, the thanks giving festival of the Oromo people in Bishoftu town of Oromia region, Ethiopia

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Dozens Killed in Stampede at Ethiopian Protest

Dozens were crushed to death Sunday in a stampede after police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse an anti-government protest.

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Image: Demonstrators show the Oromo protest gesture sign during Irreecha, the thanks giving festival of the Oromo people in Bishoftu town of Oromia region, Ethiopia

Demonstrators cross their wrists during Irreecha, the thanksgiving festival of the Oromo people, in Bishoftu town, Ethiopia, on Oct. 2, 2016. The crossed-wrists gesture has been widely used as a sign of peaceful resistance and is meant to symbolize being handcuffed by security forces. 

The stampede occurred in one of the East African country's most politically sensitive regions, Oromia, which has seen months of sometimes deadly demonstrations demanding wider freedoms.  The Oromia regional government confirmed the death toll at 52.

TIKSA NEGERI / Reuters
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Image: Protesters run from tear gas being fired by police during Irreecha, the thanks giving festival of the Oromo people in Bishoftu town of Oromia region, Ethiopia

Protesters run from tear gas being fired by police.

The protest grew out of the annual Irrecha thanksgiving event, attended by an estimated two million people.

 

TIKSA NEGERI / Reuters
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Image: Demonstrators chant slogans while flashing the Oromo protest gesture during Irreecha, the thanksgiving festival of the Oromo people, in Bishoftu town, Oromia region, Ethiopia

Demonstrators chant slogans while flashing the Oromo protest gesture.

The gesture was in the spotlight at the Rio Olympics, when Ethiopian marathoner Feyisa Lilesa, who is from the Oromia region, crossed his wrists while finishing in second place. 

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Image: Police fire tear gas to disperse protesters during Irreecha, the thanks giving festival of the Oromo people in Bishoftu town of Oromia region, Ethiopia

Police fire tear gas to disperse protesters.

TIKSA NEGERI / Reuters
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Image: Demonstrators chant slogans while flashing the Oromo protest gesture during Irreecha, the thanksgiving festival of the Oromo people, in Bishoftu town, Oromia region, Ethiopia

Demonstrators chant slogans while flashing the Oromo protest gesture.

TIKSA NEGERI / Reuters
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A man checks on a victim of the stampede.

ZACHARIAS ABUBEKER / AFP - Getty Images
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People extract an injured man from a ditch after the deadly stampede.

ZACHARIAS ABUBEKER / AFP - Getty Images
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Image: ETHIOPIA-RELIGION-UNREST

Men wash the face of a woman after police used tear gas on the protesters.

ZACHARIAS ABUBEKER / AFP - Getty Images
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Image: Demonstrators chant slogans while flashing the Oromo protest gesture during Irreecha, the thanksgiving festival of the Oromo people, in Bishoftu town, Oromia region, Ethiopia

Demonstrators chant slogans.

TIKSA NEGERI / Reuters
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Image: Police officers watch as demonstrators chant slogans while flashing the Oromo protest gesture during Irreecha, the thanksgiving festival of the Oromo people, in Bishoftu town, Oromia region, Ethiopia

Police officers watch as demonstrators chant slogans.

Read: Dozens Dead in Stampede at Ethiopia Religious Event

TIKSA NEGERI / Reuters
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