286 arrested over Mozambique protests

Police in Mozambique have arrested 286 people for violent protests against rising prices that left 13 dead and more than 400 injured during three days of unrest last week, authorities said on Tuesday.

Sixty-six stores were also looted and three banks vandalised during the unrest, which paralysed the capital Maputo on Wednesday and Thursday and spread to several other cities in the centre and north, national police said in a statement.

“This unrest, characterised by a strong dose of violence, was convened via electronic text messages in circulation on the mobile networks,” the statement said.

“The majority of those responsible for these acts were young people of both sexes, the unemployed, individuals who appeared to have consumed alcohol and informal vendors.”

The statement did not specify what charges had been brought against the detainees. National police spokesman Pedro Cossa could not immediately be reached by telephone.

The riots erupted as demonstrators took to the streets in poor neighbourhoods around Maputo and in several provincial capitals to protest sharp increases in the price of food, fuel and other basic necessities.

Clashes erupted between protesters and police, who in some cases used live ammunition to disperse demonstrators burning tyres and cars to block major roads.

Five police were among the 403 people injured in the clashes, the statement said.

The demonstrations were sparked by text messages calling on the public to protest new increases in the price of bread, electricity and other essentials.

The import-dependent country has seen prices rise sharply in recent months as the Mozambican currency, the metical, has fallen 43 per cent against the South African rand since this time last year.

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