Mozambique police patrol after Maputo food riots

The police and army are patrolling the streets of the Mozambique capital Maputo after two days of deadly riots over rising food prices.

The BBC’s Jose Tembe in the city says some businesses have now reopened but there are long queues for goods such as bread and petrol, which have been unavailable since Wednesday.

He says there are no reports of any violence so far on Friday.

Although the city is now calm, our reporter says there is still a shortage of public transport, as some minibus-taxi owners are keeping them parked, fearing they could be damaged in a renewed outbreak of violence.

There are, however, reports of riots breaking out in the central city of Chimoio.

Portuguese radio says protesters used stick and stones to prevent shops and market from opening.

Seven people died in the riots, leading to an emergency cabinet session on Thursday.

The price of bread has risen by at least 20% in the past year in Mozambique, one of the world’s poorest countries.

Government spokesman Alberto Nkutumula said the cabinet meeting had emphasised “the importance of all citizens to abstain from participating in acts of upheaval, vandalism, looting and violence in general to enable the quick return to normality”.

He condemned the violence on the streets of the capital and appealed for people to remain calm, but said the government would not reconsider increasing the price of bread.

“The price hikes are irreversible,” he told reporters.

Troops were deployed on the streets of the capital on Thursday to clear barricades, debris and burning tyres left by protesters. Sporadic gunfire was heard during the day.

Many witnesses say police have used live bullets to break up the crowds, but this has been denied by officials.

Home Affairs Minister Jose Pacheco said the government was trying to trace the source of text messages circulating among the city’s residents, urging them to continue protests on Friday.

“I received an SMS saying the strike must continue for three more days,” Abel Salvador Bild, a street vendor in the capital, told the AFP news agency.

The violence has been the worst in Mozambique since 2008, when clashes between police and rioters over rising prices left at least four people dead.

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