Hundreds of Zimbabweans arrested during anti-government protests were detained on Friday on public order charges, as the United Nations urged an end to a brutal security crackdown and an internet blackout.
The government has said three people died during the unrest that broke out on Monday after President Emmerson Mnangagwa raised fuel prices by 150 percent. Lawyers and activists say the toll was much higher and that security forces used violence and carried out mass arrests to quell the unrest.
The internet was blacked out for much of the day, until authorities began gradually lifting a ban that had disabled some electronic communications in the country since Tuesday. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed for restraint by the Zimbabwe authorities.
Authorities have yet to respond to the allegations of a crackdown, but many Zimbabweans believe Mnangagwa – a former Mugabe ally – is falling back on his predecessor’s tactics by using intimidation to crush dissent.
The president has also failed to make good on pre-election pledges to kick-start the ailing economy, beset by high inflation and a currency shortage, and the trigger for this week’s protests.