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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 November, 2003, 16:59 GMT
Zimbabwe police break up protests
Police arresting the unionists
The police have wide powers under a new security law
At least 60 trade union officials have been arrested as Zimbabwe's police prevented nationwide demonstrations over price rises and state harassment.

Running battles were fought with riot police in the second city, Bulawayo. One activist said their protest was broken up with dogs and batons.

In the capital, Harare, armed police stood guard on every street corner after the government banned the march.

Protesters want taxes and prices not to be raised in Thursday's budget.

Latest inflation figures show an annual rate of 526%, while the country is suffering from shortages of banknotes, petrol, basic food and foreign currency.

Lunch break

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), which organised the protests, said that several people were injured in Bulawayo.

Jenni Williams, a spokeswoman for the rights group Women of Zimbabwe Arise said that she had been briefly handcuffed and arrested in the police crackdown.

"They were forcing us to run by beating us so they could set the dogs on us," she told AFP news agency by mobile phone from the demonstration.

"Many of us are badly wounded by baton sticks."

Petrol queue in Harare
Zimbabwe's economy is in a severe recession
Several trade union leaders were picked up as they left a meeting in a Harare hotel, with other arrests in cities around the country, a ZCTU spokesman said.

ZCTU chairman Lovemore Matombo was arrested in central Harare and well known reform activists Brian Raftopoulos and Lovemore Madhuku were among some 30 activists taken away in police trucks, according to AP news agency.

Under tough security laws, the police must give permission for all demonstrations and protests by groups not allied to the ruling Zanu-PF party are rarely authorised.

The ZCTU had urged workers to report for duty but to march through the streets at lunchtime.

On a similar day of protest last month, police arrested some 41 trade union leaders in Harare, and more than 100 in the eastern town of Mutare.




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