12 killed in Zimbabwe crackdown - NGO

Crackdown

While long queues formed at petrol stations and outside shops, the internet shutdown meant that Harare banks were providing only partial services and no cash machines were working, a Reuters witness said. The carrier noted that all networks and providers in Zimbabwe had suspended services.

It came as the United Nations human rights office called on the government to "stop the crackdown against protesters" and "excessive use of force" by security forces, including firing live ammunition.

Econet says this is what has happened in Zimbabwe: it was ordered to block access for its subscribers.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions at the weekend called for a three-day national strike to force government to act on the economic crisis bedevilling the country. Photographs show a protester with a broken leg, another with a split lip, and others of protesters being arrested.

Zimbabwe becomes the most expensive in the world in terms of fuel.

"While we condemn the violent behaviour of some protestors, and unlawful acts such as arson and looting, we are deeply concerned that Zimbabwe's security forces have acted disproportionately in response", she said in a statement.

MISA-Zimbabwe also said they had text messages from Econet staff saying the situation is "beyond our reasonable control", ITV said.

Nationwide demonstrations erupted on Monday after President Emmerson Mnangagwa said fuel prices would double in a country which suffers regular shortages of banknotes, fuel, food and medicine.

One of those arrested, pastor and activist Evan Mawarire, was charged with inciting civil disobedience online.

Government officials were not immediately available for comment on the blackout, which critics say is an attempt to prevent images of heavy-handedness in dealing with protesters from being broadcast around the world.

Mawarire faces charges of subverting a constitutional government.

Mnangagwa was elected last year after the dictator Robert Mugabe stepped down following 37 years in power.

As NPR's Eyder Peralta reports: "Mnangagwa ushered in an era of historical civic freedoms: Police checkpoints were lifted and for the first time in decades Zimbabweans were allowed to air political views".

The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum said it had recorded at least 12 deaths, 78 gunshot injuries and more than 240 incidents of assault and torture.

More than 400 people arrested across the country have been denied bail, said Mawarire's lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa.

The U.S. Embassy in Harare urged all sides to show restraint.

This may have prompted the government to order the second Internet blackout.

The internet shutdown cuts off crucial access to the mobile money that Zimbabwe's government uses to pay teachers and other public workers.

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