Ethiopia has declared a state of emergency following months of anti-government protests by members of the country’s two largest ethnic groups, BBC reported Oct. 9. The Oromo and the Amhara make up about 60 percent of the population, but the the country’s Tigray minority leads the central government. Violence has intensified since Oct. 2 when at least 55 people were killed in clashes between police and protesters at an Oromo festival. Hundreds of people have died in months of protests and tens of thousands have also been detained, human rights groups say. Declaring the state of emergency, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said, “We put our citizens’ safety first. We want to put an end to the damage that is being carried out against infrastructure projects, education institutions, administration and justice buildings.” The state of emergency will last for six months.