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Maputo - Mozambican police used batons and teargas on Tuesday to disperse a crowd of war veterans demanding a pensions rise in the capital Maputo, the leader of the protest told AFP.
“The police attacked the veterans using teargas... and beat them,” said Herminio dos Santos, the leader of the Forum of Demobilised Soldiers, adding that four women and six men were badly beaten.
Some suffered “bad injuries to their knees and arms because they were shambocked”, he said, referring to the heavy hide whip traditionally used for cattle driving but also often wielded by South African apartheid-era police for riot control.
Police also arrested nine people during the crackdown, he said.
The protesters had gathered near the office of Prime Minister Alberto Vaquina in central Maputo to demand the government pay them a “dignified pension”.
The veterans, who fought on the government's side against rebel Renamo fighters during the 16-year civil war that ended in 1992, want a monthly pension of 20 000 meticals ($660).
This is the second violent police crackdown on the veterans in less than a month. Local rights groups condemned police for using what they termed “excessive force” against the demonstrators gathered outside Vaquina's offices on February 26.
In response to the demonstrators' demands, authorities have said that complaints should be directed to a Ministry of Veterans' Affairs set up to deal with such issues.
The veterans say they have no intention of backing down. “We will continue until the very last,” dos Santos vowed calling the Frelimo-led government “inhumane and criminal”. - Sapa-AFP