File-- In this file photo of June 10, 2005, Members of the Ethiopian army patrol the streets of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, after recent clashes with protesters. Violent weekend clashes between protesters and security forces have claimed the lives of more than a dozen people across Ethiopia. The government announced Sunday evening that seven protesters died in the northern Amhara region’s capital, Bahir Dar. Witnesses who spoke to The Associated Press anonymously for fear of reprisals said anti-riot police also used force Saturday to disperse hundreds of protesters in the capital, Addis Ababa.(AP Photo/Karel Prinsloo, file)

Addis Ababa - Protests against the Ethiopian government have left dozens of people dead, activists and witnesses said Monday following a wave of unrest around the country.

The government has only put the death toll at seven.

Demonstrations accusing the government of human rights abuses and of marginalising ethnic communities raged over the weekend in the north-western region of Amhara and in Oromia, Ethiopia's largest region covering parts of the south and west.

The Oromo and Amhara are the largest among Ethiopia's more than 80 ethnic groups, making up an estimated 30 per cent each of the 94-million population.

The government said seven people were killed in Amhara's capital Bahir Dar as protesters clashed with police.

But social media activists and witnesses, who spoke to dpa on condition of anonymity, said clashes in Amhara and Oromia claimed up to 25 lives.

“Social amenities, hotels, banks and individual-owned properties were attacked during the violence” in Bahir Dar, the Amhara region's spokesman, Nigusu Tilhaun, told the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate.

Activists and witnesses accused the authorities of a brutal crackdown to silence criticism.

Oromia had previously seen months of protests against plans to extend the boundary of the capital, Addis Ababa, which is located in Oromia, amid concern that it could lead to farmers being displaced.

The protests led to security forces killing more than 400 people, according to Human Rights Watch.

ANA-DPA