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Tue Mar 31 18:50:41 SAST 2015

More than 275 arrested in Malawi riots

Sapa | 22 July, 2011 11:05
Protestors take to the streets of Malawi's commercial capital Blantyre
Protestors take to the streets of Malawi's commercial capital Blantyre
Image by: Eldson Chagara / REUTERS

More than 275 people were arrested across Malawi during two days of rioting that killed 18 people, in the deadliest protests since the beginning of democracy in 1994, police say.

About 200 were arrested for looting in the capital Lilongwe, the epicentre of the riots, police spokesman Davie Chingwalu told AFP.

Another 45 were arrested in the former colonial capital Zomba, and 30 in the commercial hub Blantyre, Chingwalu said.

On Wednesday and Thursday, police used teargas and fired live ammunition to disperse protesters across the country who took to the streets accusing President Bingu wa Mutharika of mismanaging the economy and trampling on democratic rights.

Soldiers deployed in the main cities on Thursday, clearing the streets.

"On Friday the situation was quite normal" in Blantyre, Chingwalu said.

Chingwalu said those arrested were "pure thugs" who face charges including malicious damage to property, arson and conduct likely to cause breach of peace.

The killings have raised global condemnation, with rights groups calling for a full investigation into the deaths.

Church leaders and activists in the northern town of Mzuzu were preparing to bury of some of the people who died in the protests later Friday.

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