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.

Online activists and witnesses in at least three other towns said many other casualties occurred in the Oromia region, where protesters have demanded the release of people detained in massive demonstrations earlier this year.

The government blocked the internet over the weekend, alleging that "anti-peace elements" based outside the country and supported by online activists are to blame for the violence.

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.