Ethiopian authorities are investigating the murder of the country manager of Dangote Cement Plc, the manufacturer owned by Africa’s richest man, and two other staff.
Unidentified gunmen shot dead Deep Kamra, his secretary and his driver on Wednesday, Tariku Alemayehu, deputy manager for sales and marketing in Ethiopia, said by phone. The killings took place in broad daylight near Dangote’s factory in Mugher, about 90 kilometers (56 miles) north of Addis Ababa, the capital, Group Executive Director Edwin Devakumar said by email from Lagos, Nigeria, where Dangote’s head office is based.
Dangote, owned by billionaire Nigerian Aliko Dangote, is Africa’s biggest cement producer with operations in 10 countries. Mugher is situated in Ethiopia’s Oromia region, which has been hit by sporadic anti-government protests over the past three years and where the company has faced opposition to how it sources raw materials.
The assailants were laying in wait for Kamra and forced his driver to lose control of the vehicle by throwing a concrete block at it, before opening fire on the occupants, Devakumar said. Addisu Arega, a member of Oromia’s regional government identified, the other victims as Beakal Alelinyi and Tsegay Giday.
“Mr. Kamra tried to get out and escape,” Devakumar said. “They shot him in the leg. When he slumped into the jeep, they went near and shot him multiple times. Then they shot the driver and the secretary — also, each of them, multiple times. It was simply a massacre.”
Ethiopia is Dangote Cement’s biggest market outside of Nigeria, with sales rising 13 percent to about 2.2 million metric tons in 2017, according to the company’s website. The government has begun an investigation into the killings, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s spokesman Fitsum Arega said by text message.
“The entire government is shocked and saddened by the barbaric killing of Mr. Deep Kamra and his two Ethiopian colleagues,” Fitsum said, vowing to bring the perpetrators to justice.
The company’s head of transport in Ethiopia fled to Addis Ababa after receiving “multiple” death threats, while its head of human resources also faced “several threats about his life being in danger, Devakumar said.
Dangote said last year it was considering shutting the Mugher plant unless authorities in Oromia reversed an order to cement makers to hand over control of pumice, sand, and clay mines to youth groups. The policy for the cement industry was in part overseen by Prime Minister Abiy in his prior role as head of Oromia’s urban development and housing bureau as a means to ease youth unemployment and quell unrest.
Tariku said Dangote had come to an agreement last year for youth to supply pumice to the company each month “according to capacity.”
Kamra was an Indian national. The Indian Embassy in Addis Ababa said its providing all necessary assistance to return his body back home.