Malawi blocks mass funeral for riot victims

2011-07-22 11:51
Blantyre - Malawian authorities on Friday blocked a mass funeral for seven people killed during two days of rioting in the northern city of Mzuzu, a rights activist said.

"We have been stopped by the government with our arrangements to bury the seven heroes," Moses Mkandawire, director of the Church and Society rights group, told AFP.

"The government says it will provide transport to have the seven buried in their respective [village] homes," said Mkandawire.

No further explanation was given, he added.

Graves for the seven had already been dug at the Zolozolo cemetery, and mourners had begun gathering at the mortuary to prepare to transport the bodies for the funeral.

"We are still discussing with city council officials about the implications of this. We are also liaising with parents of the deceased to tell them of this development," Mkandawire said.

Eighteen people were killed on Wednesday and Thursday across Malawi in the deadliest unrest since the first multi-party elections in 1994, according to the health ministry.

Other funerals were planned on Friday for victims in the capital Lilongwe and the commercial hub Blantyre, where soldiers patrolled the streets to prevent fresh unrest.

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