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Wednesday, 18 October, 2000, 12:02 GMT 13:02 UK
Third day of protests in Zimbabwe
Children taunt police
Children dared the police to fire teargas
Violent protests are continuing for a third day in Zimbabwe, with demonstrators taking to the streets in Harare suburbs and nearby townships to express their anger at increases in the cost of living.

The government has blamed the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) for the riots, but the party has denied the accusation.

Soldiers have been deployed as part of a special reaction force in an attempt to quell the riots.

Police and soldiers fought running battles with protesters in Dzivarasekwa township.

Burning tyre
Burning barricades were put up to block traffic
Four television journalists reporting the protests were whipped and beaten by soldiers.

They were treated in hospital for slight injuries.

Police conducted house-to-house searches and clashed with stone-throwing rioters.

Other townships were reported to be tense but calm with roads littered with rubble and spent tear gas canisters.

Our correspondent in Harare says the disturbances seem to be taking on a pattern: the nights are relatively quiet, but clashes between stone-throwing crowds and riot police resume early each morning as commuters from Harare's southern suburbs and townships attempt to go to work.

Opposition blamed

Information minister Jonathan Moyo told the BBC that the MDC was using unemployed youths to riot instead of using parliamentary channels to express its grievances.

Policeman arrests a woman
More than 50 people have been arrested this week
But MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai denied his party had organised the protests, saying that public anger against price rises in food essentials and public transport was causing a "spontaneous reaction".

Reports from parts of the capital say members of the security forces went from house to house on Tuesday night beating those suspected of taking part in the protests.

Among the victims was an opposition member of parliament whose wife and son were also assaulted in their home in the early hours of the morning.

Helicopters

The army used helicopters to drop teargas in an effort to disperse crowds on Tuesday.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai
Tsvangirai: Protests reflect public anger
More than 50 people have been arrested since rioting began on Monday.

Our correspondent says there appears to be no central organisation to the protest, but the aim seems to be to enforce a strike in the hope of compelling the government to introduce price controls.

Many of those taking part want to go further demanding the resignation of President Robert Mugabe, whom they blame for the collapse of the Zimbabwean economy.

Inflation

Inflation has spiralled in Zimbabwe in recent months, with a foreign exchange shortage leading to increases in fuel prices, which have in turn pushed up the cost of food and public transport.

In some instances, the prices paid by consumers for basic commodities have increased by 50% or even 100% overnight.

Those taking part in the protests said the prices of such basics as transport and food were now so high that they had nothing to lose by taking to the streets.

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See also:

18 Oct 00 | Africa
Zimbabwe: Economic melt-down
16 Oct 00 | Africa
In pictures: Zimbabwe riots
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