President Mutharika says that opposition and civil society groups that led protests over Malawi's deepening economic troubles are behind the violence that left at least 10 dead.
But opposition leaders say demonstrations yesterday against fuel shortages and currency controls were peaceful and did not spark today's widespread looting, rioting, and running battles with police.
Ministry of Health spokesman Henry Chimbali confirmed that eight people died from injuries of various degrees at Mzuzu Central Hospital. One was brought at the hospital already dead. Although there have been reports that many of the dead were shot with live ammunition, Mr. Chimbali did not confirm that fatalities were caused by gunshot wounds.
The protest organizers distanced themselves from incidents of looting, saying that their members were peacefully demonstrating yesterday.
“We urge those that are still in the streets and looting to refrain from this unlawful act,” civil society groups said in a communiqué obtained by reporters. “Doing so is against the laws of Malawi. Take note that all the concerns that were presented to the President through the laid channels of communications.”
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