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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 March 2007, 11:53 GMT
Eyewitness: Harare's brutal clash
John (not his real name) is 32 years old. Speaking from a secret house in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, he tells the BBC News website of the brutal fracas that ensued when police stopped a rally in Highfield suburb from taking place on Sunday.

Zimbabwean riot police in Harare
Police stopped the rally, saying it breached a public gathering ban
There were about 60 of us from the area where I live and we joined up to head to where the rally was going to be held.

The police were already there when we arrived and were trying to stop the rally from going ahead.

By the time [opposition leader Morgan] Tsvangirai arrived there were more than 1,000 of us youths, all singing.

When he [Tsvangirai] came he just started lifting up his arms and everyone was celebrating to see the leader alive.

That was when the trouble started because he wanted to talk to us and they [the police] were trying to separate him from us.

Singing in defiance

The situation was getting heated - Tsvangirai and the police were arguing, and we were carrying on singing and shouting, louder and louder.

All in all there were only about 30 police and there were more than 1,000 - we were too many for them. They could not control what was happening.

They [police] started throwing tear gas.

We picked up their [police] discarded sticks and used them to beat their left-behind colleagues

Some of them took Tsvangirai and the MDC officials that were with him and forced them into their vehicles. They drove away in two pick-ups and a white Toyota defender.

A lot of people started fleeing from the tear gas but some of us stayed and sang, in defiance.

We started fighting back. We threw stones at them, and when they began rushing towards us, we started fighting with them because we wanted our freedom and we wanted our leader to be released.

They knew they couldn't win and so started shooting at us.

One of us was killed. They shot my friend Gift Tandare dead.

When we realised that one of us had been killed, everything became worse.

On the rampage

We went on the rampage and we did not even fear for our lives.

HAVE YOUR SAY
People running away at a rally in Harare
The situation in Zimbabwe is now very bad. It cannot be solved by Zimbabweans alone
Herbert, Harare

There was a lot of action and as we threw punches we cried in Shona: "Ngatirwirei rusununguko" - let's fight back for our freedom.

When they [the police] realised that someone had been shot they tried to run from the scene. They had pick-ups but not all of them made it back in time before they drove off.

About six or eight of them were left with us.

As they ran some of them dropped their batons so we picked up their discarded sticks and used them to beat their left-behind colleagues.

The police were badly beaten.

Too bad

One of our youth leaders started calming the situation. He knew that if we carried on like we were - we were so angry - that we would kill them.

If that happened, the trouble would be too bad.

We left the police on the side of the road and ran away. It was about one o'clock in the afternoon. We were all told to disperse because we were afraid that more police were going to come.

They [police] say they did not expect there to be trouble on Sunday but they are the ones who caused the trouble.

They shot one of us.

What happened on Sunday, when we fought back, was the first time for me and a lot of people I know.

There are many reasons - the country is not stable anymore, prices of all commodities are going up, everyday. We don't even have enough money to cater for our basic needs. Transportation is rising every day.

And the postponement of the elections to 2010 is now too much - people feel they cannot wait anymore and suffer until that time.

Gift is at the mortuary but the rest of us, we are hiding. The police take videos at times and so we can't be sure if they saw our faces.

They might come looking for us.

I am also affected by the tear gas and now have the flu-like symptoms that it brings. I cannot be seen to be suffering from these effects or else I will be known to have been at the rally.



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Scenes of recent unrest in Zimbabwe



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