Troops clear barricades, Mozambique riots persist

Thu Sep 2, 2010 2:15pm GMT

By Charles Mangwiro

MAPUTO (Reuters) - Mozambique's government deployed troops to clear barricades in the capital as angry protesters blocked roads and looted shops on Thursday, the second day of riots caused by soaring bread prices.

The cabinet held an emergency session and appealed for calm, and cabinet spokesman Alberto Nkutumula said seven people had been killed and 280 injured in the protests.

"We condemn acts of violence and we appeal to all citizens to remain calm," Nkutumula said.

Police said the army had been sent into the capital Maputo to help clear barricades erected by thousands of protesters.

"The army was called to clean the city (of barricades) and not to restore order and public security," Pedro Cossa, spokesman of the general police command, told state-controlled Mozambique Television TVM.

The sight of soldiers on the streets could scare off protesters and prevent further riots. On Wednesday seven people, including two children, were killed when police opened fire on protesters in the worst riots to hit the southern African country of 23 million since 2008.

The rioting was prompted by a 30 percent rise in bread prices in one of the world's poorest countries, which has never fully recovered from one of Africa's bloodiest civil wars and has a 54 percent unemployment rate.

The government-imposed price rise took the cost of a bread roll -- the bread staple of Mozambicans -- to 20 U.S. cents in a country where the average worker earns around $37 a month.   Continued...

<p>Police patrol during riots in Mozambique's capital Maputo September 1, 2010. REUTERS/Grant Lee Neuenburg</p>
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