Death toll in Mozambique riots rises to 6: TV

20:43, September 01, 2010      

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Death toll in the ongoing riots in Mozambique's capital of Maputo has risen to six after police opened fire at the crowds protesting rising prices in the country, local television station STV said on Wednesday.

The privately-own television station initially said three people were confirmed dead including two children by a local hospital in Maputo.

Stray bullets caused casualties, according to STV.

Meanwhile, the Red Cross sources said more than a dozen people were injured in the clash between the protests and police officers coming to restore order.

There are also reports that flights were cancelled since one of the roads heavily affected is close to the Mavalane International Airport in Maputo.

The protesters of price hikes were burning tyres along the roads, causing dark smoke close to the airport. In addition, one crew member from Portugal Airport Transport TAP was not able to reach the airport to fly back to Portugal.

Mozambican Interior Minister Jose Pacheco decried the riots in Maputo, saying the protest was illegal.

The Constitution gives rights to all citizens to protest, the minister said, deploring the fact that no one made the request to do so to the authorities.

He appealed to the people to collaborate with the police to establish tranquillity in Maputo.

In vindicating the police action, Pacheco said the officers were deployed at focal points to prevent chaos. If otherwise, the situation would have been worse, he added.

The police have made a number of arrests in the clash.

In another development, church leaders are calling for calm, including Reverend Dinis Sengulane, who is also a member of the State Council.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets, erecting roadblocks, hurling rocks to vehicles and setting ablaze the used tires.

Police said they shot into the air to disperse rioters.

The violent protest came in the culmination of strikes and demonstrations in the past few days in the Portuguese-speaking Southern African country, where police announced on Monday that they had permitted no protest of the kind. They said they were well prepared to stop any action detrimental to social stability.

According to a decision made in early August, the Mozambican government lifts the prices of bread by 30 percent on Wednesday. The price hikes for water and power could also hit more than 10 percent.

Source: Xinhua


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