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Last Updated: Friday, 27 May, 2005, 10:55 GMT 11:55 UK
Zimbabwe police destroy shanties
A stall burns after being set on fire by the police in the Harare suburb of Glen View
On Wednesday, the police burnt an informal market in a Harare suburb
Police in Zimbabwe have begun destroying shack settlements in the capital, Harare, as part of a plan to clean up the city.

An opposition parliamentarian told the BBC that thousands of people had been left homeless.

Police say the demolitions are part of an ongoing operation to deal with illegal activities across the country.

They have arrested 17,000 people over the past two weeks, most of them street traders and minibus drivers.

Homes torn down

Shack demolitions began in Harare on Thursday afternoon.

On Friday morning, about 2,000 police were involved in the destruction of several poor settlements in the capital.

In the Hatfield Extension area in the north of Harare, police dismantled more than 500 dwellings, and some shack dwellers were forced to tear down their own homes.

Harare police commissioner Augustine Chihuri warned that any one resisting would be dealt with.

Police say people evicted will be taken to alternative accommodation.

But Trudy Stevenson, MP for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change in the constituency that includes Hatfield Extension, said people had nowhere to go, and that thousands were homeless.

She said she had been phoned on Thursday night by residents who said truckloads of police had arrived under cover of darkness.

"They told me they were burning everything but I better not come as I might get shot in the darkness," Mrs Stevenson said.

Thousands more held in Zimbabwe
26 May 05 |  Africa
Major Zimbabwe police crackdown
23 May 05 |  Africa

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