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Angola police 'accidentally' kill man in social gathering dispersal

The interior ministry has opened an investigation into the incident.

An Angola police armoured personnel carrier is seen blocking a street in Barrio do Camama, Luanda, on 6 April 2020 to enforce a lockdown order that has largely gone unnoticed in the daily grind and hustle on the capital's streets. Picture: AFP

LUANDA - An Angolan citizen has been shot dead by police enforcing social distancing measures against the coronavirus in the capital Luanda, the government and a witness said.

Antonio Domingos Vulola, 21, was gunned down on Saturday after police clashed with a group of people caught flouting a nationwide curfew and a ban on social gatherings in Luanda's impoverished Huambo neighbourhood.

"The citizens showed resistance and set out to attack the forces of law, throwing sticks stones and bottles," an interior ministry statement said late Monday.

"In defence of their own physical integrity, law enforcement officers fired shots that accidentally hit the citizens in question."

The victim's brother told AFP that Vulola was shot in the head while fleeing the scuffle.

"The police arrived and started hitting (even) those with masks," Joao Antonio Vulola recalled.

"My brother had no mask... so he decided to flee and it was from there that the agent shot three bullets: one in the air and two at my brother's head, who died on the spot."

The interior ministry has opened an investigation into the incident.

To date Angola has recorded just 43 cases of coronavirus, including two deaths.

President Joao Lourenco declared a state of emergency in March, banning public gatherings and restricting movement to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Rights groups across the continent have denounced widespread incidents of violence by security officials enforcing anti-coronavirus restrictions.

"There have been many excesses of force by national police when acting on the state of emergency," said Angolan human rights defender Rafael Marques.

"Police must understand that the government has not guaranteed living conditions or support for vulnerable families," he added.

"(So) there will always be the presence of many people on the street."