Swazi security forces clash with students

Security forces and protesters clashed in two towns on Wednesday during a week of planned protests demanding an end to Swaziland’s absolute monarchy.

About 1 000 university students started pelting security forces with stones, who reacted by firing teargas and beating demonstrators in the capital Mbabane.

In the eastern town of Sitheke, trade union leaders said police fired rubber bullets and teargas at unarmed and peaceful protesters.

Zingiswa Losi, deputy president of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, was among three people arrested in the town, said Sibongile Mazibuko, head of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers.

“When Cosatu representatives got up to speak, police gathered to remove them. The crowd tried to protect them. There were gunshots [of rubber bullets], teargas. I think they are being taken back to their country,” said Mazibuko, whose teachers’ union is a driving force behind the Swazi protests.

She was speaking by telephone from Sitheki, one of the towns where a coalition of pro-democracy groups was staging a third consecutive day of protests against Swazi King Mswati III, Africa’s last absolute monarch.

Police declined to comment on the arrests.

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