Sixty-eight Zimbabweans have been treated after sustaining gunshot wounds, 17 of whom underwent emergency surgery, after violent protests this week over a steep rise in the price of fuel, a doctors’ group said on Thursday.
The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights said its members had treated 172 people in private and public hospitals since Monday, when the protests erupted in the capital, Harare, and the second city, Bulawayo.
Scores of Zimbabwean civilians including a prominent activist were detained and charged with public violence on Wednesday and others were beaten, lawyers and witnesses said, pointing to a heavy crackdown on dissent by security forces.
After two days of protests against fuel price hikes, residents said soldiers and police were patrolling Harare townships and assaulting some people in their homes, a tactic used by Robert Mugabe’s security services during his almost four decades of increasingly repressive rule.
Some internet services that were cut on Tuesday were partially restored on Wednesday, the final day of a three-day stay-at-home strike against steep fuel price hikes. But social media platforms like Whatsapp, Facebook and Twitter remained blocked because of a government order.
A legal and media group earlier went to court to have the shutdown reversed.
Joana Mamombe, an opposition lawmaker, said she was in hiding after soldiers sought her out at her parents’ home on Tuesday and beat up her father, leaving him hospitalised and unable to sit.
“I am very scared for my life. This is a crackdown on those of us who oppose this government. They want to silence opposition voices,” she told Reuters by telephone.