Riots over rising food and fuel prices have led to deaths on the streets of Maputo. Mozambique's private television station S-TV reported that six people, including two children, had been killed, while a police spokesman stated that four people have died.
Amid levels of violence not witnessed in Mozambique since 2008, police originally admitted to firing live rounds after running out of rubber bullets but later denied the use of live ammunition. The police, who fired at protesters blocking roads and throwing stones, said that 142 people had been arrested and 27 wounded, including two police officers.
Shouting anti-government slogans, demonstrators protested against the dramatic rise in the price of essential goods, in particular bread which has increased by up to 30 per cent in tandem with a global surge in wheat prices. The response of the ruling party Frelimo, who have been in power since 1975, has been condemned by the country's main opposition party Renamo. Interior minister Jose Pacheco, who referred to the protesters as criminals, warned that demonstrations would not be tolerated and he appealed for calm.
In recent months prices in Mozambique have risen as the value of its currency, the metical, slumped against the South African rand. According to data from South Africa's Standard Bank, the exchange rate is currently five meticals to the rand, down from a rate of 3,5 this time last year.
Meanwhile due to lack of air traffic control, flights to and from Maputo airport have been cancelled, leaving hundreds of people stranded. South African Airlines (SAA) and local operator LAN are closely monitoring the situation.
70 per cent of Mozambique's population lives below the poverty line.