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- Food Security - Riots
Maputo riots blamed on rising wheat prices in Southern Africa
Food riots in Maputo, Mozambique on Wednesday left at least six protesters dead including a female student as police sprayed bullets at demonstrators.
Reports from Maputo, Mozambique say the incident occurred as hundreds of demonstrators marched into the streets in protest over rising food prices.
But police have justified their fatal action arguing that the marches were illegal and no group had sought permission to hold them.
Police reacted Wednesday by opening fire on stone-throwing crowds who were protesting rising prices in the impoverished southern African country. A six-year-old girl was killed as she was on her way home from school, reports say.
Police made 142 arrests, according to police spokesman Pedro Cossa, who said casualty figures were likely to rise. He also said police used tear gas and rubber bullets against the rioters, but local media — citing witnesses — said real bullets were also used.
According to information-gleaned form several media outlets, the cost of bread, water and electricity, which are among the basics have been hiked following fuel price increases and the devaluation of the national currency.
A 13.4 percent increase in electricity tariffs and an 11.7 percent rise in water prices, plus a government announcement that the bread price would rise by 25 percent on September 6 sparked the bloody protests.
South African government reacted by closing its embassy, while the road to South Africa has also been closed.
The decision came after rioters blockaded the route and set fire to a petrol station in the Matola suburb, an area between Maputo and its border, South Africa Broadcasting Appropriation is quoted saying Wednesday night.
"There have been sporadic incidents of stoning and blockades of roads in the vicinity of Maputo including the airport... the embassy has been temporarily closed as a result," High Commissioner to Mozambique Dikgang Moopeloa said in a statement to the broadcaster.
Meanwhile, in neighboring Zimbabwe, Finance Minister Tendai Biti on Tuesday hit out at the recent increases in prices of bread saying they were not justified and warned the business community against abusing consumers.
The price of bread in Zimbabwe went up by 10 percent late August after bakers cited an increase in the cost of imported wheat.
International wheat prices shot up recently by eight percent to around US$280 per tonne following the ban on wheat exports by major producer Russia early this month.
The increase has seen the price of a standard loaf of bread rising from US0,90 to US$1.