Riots continue in Mozambique

2010-09-03 07:31

Maputo, Mozambique – Riots continued into the evening in townships around the Mozambican capital Maputo yesterday as residents protested increases in living costs.

Seven people had been killed during violent demonstrations that entered their second day in the capital and nearby town of Matola, government spokesperson Alberto Nkutumula told journalists.

“The destructive activities, resulting from the unrest caused huge human and material damage,” Nkutumula said after an emergency cabinet meeting.

A total of 288 people were wounded during protests on Wednesday.

Mozambicans went on strike from Wednesday in protest against increases in living costs.

Bread prices rose 17 percent, while the cost of water and electricity also went up following fuel price hikes and the devaluation of the national currency, the metical.

Skirmishes between police and protesters restarted on yesterday morning as crowds blockaded roads with burning tyres again.

Demonstrators took to looting and damaging property, damaging 11 public service buses and destroying another completely, Nkutumula said.

Four electrical substations were set alight and two petrol stations vandalised. Up to 23 shops had also been looted, he said.

The first day of rioting caused damage estimated at 122 million metical (R24 million).

Meanwhile South African Airways used large Airbus A340-200s, normally used for longer international flights, on its two scheduled flights to Maputo to bring back travellers yesterday.

They had been left stranded after their flights were cancelled on Wednesday, SAA spokesman Fani Zulu said.

“We have increased the seats available to accommodate passengers who could not fly on the previous flight,” he said.

Flights took off and landed without incident in Maputo.

The city’s international airport was open, although demonstrators periodically barricaded the roads leading to it.

The South African embassy in Mozambique said it had been open from the start of the riots on Wednesday.

Juan Henning (25) a South African living in Maputo for the past seven years, was unperturbed by the riots in his home town Matola, since he also lived through fuel price hike riots in 2008.

“I’m going through this for a second time now. I am becoming used to it.”

He acknowledged, however, that this week’s riots were more violent than those two years ago.

“I think this time it was a bit more hectic,” he said, “they did not set alight cars and petrol stations as they did this time.”

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