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Police in Zimbabwe on Friday fired shots to disperse protesters in central Harare, activists claimed, a day after President Robert Mugabe published tough new regulations to jail illegal money changers.
A journalist from the private Daily News was severely assaulted by police as he tried to cover the clashes, said the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition.
A video clip posted by the private NewsDay showed a truckload of riot police roaring along a road in the city centre. In the video, what sounds like shots ring out and people scurry for safety.
Watch the video below
The Zimbabwe Peace Project said that at least five protesters were injured in the skirmishes.
A spokesperson for the Tajamuka protest group, which organised Friday’s demonstration, claimed live bullets were fired.
“Today’s protest was a peaceful protest until police, totally unprovoked, began firing live bullets, throwing tear gas cannisters and dispersing a peaceful protesters,” said the spokesman, Promise Mkwananzi.
Police have not yet confirmed the incident and there have been no reports yet of arrests.
Mkwananzi said the demonstration was called to protest ongoing cash shortages.
“We are unhappy about the shortages of cash in the market for the ordinary citizens. More importantly we are unhappy about the fact that as the cash shortages escalate to the public we see individuals that are linked to Zanu-PF flouting enormous amounts of cash,” he said in a live video posted on the group’s Facebook page.
Mugabe’s government and some of his family members have come in for criticism in recent days for allegedly spending large amounts of money to take a huge entourage to New York for the UN general assembly and to buy luxury cars.
On Thursday, Mugabe’s government published tough new regulations that allow police to arrest street traders of scarce foreign currency and seize their cash stocks.
The government said this week it would also crack down on people “abusing” social media to spread panic over the economy.
A week ago many Zimbabweans, especially in Harare, went on a buying spree to stock up on fuel and basic goods amid fears of looming shortages.Source: News 24