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Zim police defend decision to call in army to deal with protesters

Violent scenes played out in the capital between soldiers and supporters of the opposition MDC Alliance after the ruling Zanu-PF's majority win in parliament.

Army officials patrolled the streets during election protests in Zimbabwe on 1 August 2018. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

HARARE – Zimbabwean police have defended their decision to call for army back up to deal with Wednesday's violence in Harare, saying they did not have enough officers.

Violent scenes played out in the capital between soldiers and supporters of the opposition MDC Alliance after the ruling Zanu-PF's majority win in parliament.

At least three people were confirmed dead, scores others injured while property was destroyed.

The US Embassy in Harare has urged the military to exercise restraint while diffusing tensions, saying it is deeply concerned about how it dealt with civilians.

The police’s Charity Charamba says the police chief requested the backup.

“It’s not a secret that our police officers are currently deployed throughout the entire country and the level of lawlessness in Harare has actually led to this decision.”

But it’s been argued that this decision led to the chaos and the subsequent deaths of at least three people.

Meanwhile, while the opposition MDC Alliance says it is not taking responsibility for the violence while in his address to the nation on Wednesday night, President Emmerson Mnangangwa called on political parties to accept that in any electoral process there are winners and losers.

Blood could be seen on the streets of Zimbabwe after police used live ammunition on civilians and protesters who accused the electoral commission of rigging results. Members of the media have also been assaulted and some had their equipment broken.

A man, who was bleeding from the mouth after being hit, said: "I was beaten by the soldiers, okay. I was hit during the demonstration."

Protesters here have called for intervention from Southern African Development Community and the African Union, calling this a war between citizens and the Zanu-PF led government.

WARNING: Footage may upset sensitive viewers

VIDEO: Zim army uses live rounds against protesters

REACTIONS

Two presidential front-runners have reacted with President Emmerson Mnangagwa calling for peace and his opponent Nelson Chamisa declaring that no amount of result manipulation will alter the will of voters.

Opposition MDC Alliance supporters took to the streets, barricading roads and burning tires, claiming the elections results announced so far, confirming Zanu-PF as a majority party in Parliament have been rigged.

Mnangagwa also reacted to the violence on social media, saying: “Now is the time for responsibility and above all, peace.”

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)