Zimbabwe police use teargas, water cannon to disperse opposition march (Pictures & Videos)

HARARE Aug 24 (Reuters) – Zimbabwean police used teargas, water cannon and batons on Wednesday to disperse opposition youths who were demonstrating in the capital against alleged brutality by security agents.

More than 200 youths from the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), had taken to the streets two days before a planned march by all opposition parties to try to force President Robert Mugabe to implement electoral reforms ahead of the 2018 vote.

Police intercepted them and fired teargas at the protesters who were planning to hand a petition at the offices of the Ministry of Home Affairs, which is in charge of the police.

Some protesters threw back the teargas canisters, as well as rocks, towards the police, who chased them with water cannon and fired more teargas outside the MDC headquarters, forcing pedestrians and people standing in nearby bank queues to flee.

The youths had marched through the streets of the capital denouncing the police for beating up protesters and called on Mugabe to step down, accusing him of running a dictatorship.

“We have been seeing a deliberate attempt by the police to intimidate, harass and silence the people of Zimbabwe,” MDC Youth Assembly secretary general Lovemore Chinoputsa told Reuters TV during the march.

Chinoputsa said police had refused to sanction the march, saying that it would degenerate into violence.

Police spokeswoman Charity Charamba said she could not immediately comment. The police routinely deny charges of brutality and instead accuse the opposition of using “hooligans” during protests to attack officers.

A police truck has reportedly beentorched in the CBD

The southern African nation has a history of violence against opponents of Mugabe, where police have in the last few months crushed demonstrations against high unemployment, acute cash shortages and corruption.

A trauma clinic in Harare last month recorded a list of cases of people who had been caught up in a police crack down during anti-government protests.

In what has been seen as an attempt to forestall Friday’s multi-party mega demonstration, police in Harare on Wednesday descended on MDC-T youths who were marching in the city centre, resulting in chaos as police fired teargas and randomly truncheoned members of the public, leaving many shops closed and city centre deserted.In the ensuing melee, angry protesters retributed and burned a vehicle belonging to the State broadcaster, ZBC.Below are some of the pictures.The demonstration, #MyZimbabwe, was organised by the MDC-T youth wing which says it is angered by increasing heavy-handedness of the police when dealing with protesters

The demonstration, #MyZimbabwe, was organised by the MDC-T youth wing which says it is angered by increasing heavy-handedness of the police when dealing with protesters

A Choppies supermarket along Nelson Mandela has reportedly been looted

A police truck has reportedly beentorched in the CBD

A police truck has reportedly beentorched in the CBD

A reminder of 1998 demonstrations that ended with looting, people looted a shop along Innez Terrace Avenue.

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This is not first time police have brutalised peaceful protesters. Watch video below.

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Last month police beat up women in front of their children. Watch video below

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