Cops, youths in fierce clashes

HARARE - Motorists and commuters were caught in a cross fire of fierce clashes between riot police and angry youths during yesterday’s evening rush hour which resulted in chaos in the Central Business District (CBD).

For than two hours, police fought running battles with the youths who were later joined by the vendors who were protesting loss of their wares which were confiscated by municipal police.

According to witnesses, problems started when the police tried to disperse youths and vendors gathered near the MDC Harvest House head office along Nelson Mandela Avenue — triggering serious resistance which later degenerated into ugly confrontation.

The youths pelted police with stones and pegged them back to First Street where some officers manning the police post were forced to seek refuges in nearby buildings.

There were no reports of fatalities at the time of going to print as police spokesperson Charity Charamba was not picking up her phone.

Commuters and motorists were caught up in the chaotic scenes which saw police calling reinforcements which responded by firing volleys of teargas which forced most shops to close.

The violent clashes caused most shops around Nelson Mandela Avenue, Inez Terrace and Angwa Street to temporarily close, as tear gas filled the air — disrupting both traffic and business in the city centre.

MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu blamed the police for allegedly provoking the youths.

“We condemn the fascist and overzealous reaction of the ZRP.  Every time they unjustifiably and unreasonably accuse MDC youths of provoking them.

“Our youths are very disciplined and law-abiding. It is the ZRP themselves who are trigger happy and tear gas crazy. The police didn’t conduct themselves like a professional law enforcement authority,” said Gutu.

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