Commuters were stranded in Zimbabwe as protesters burned tyres and used rocks to barricade roads in reaction to the fuel price hike. Picture: AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi

PRETORIA - The International Cross-Border Traders Association (ICTA) on Monday said it had withdrawn all buses travelling to different parts of Zimbabwe from neighbouring countries as protests spread in the country.

"As the International Cross-Border Traders Association we have withdrawn all buses . There will be no loading of buses till further notice," ICTA president Denis Juru told African News Agency (ANA) in Pretoria.

On Monday, the military and police were engaged in running battles with protesters in different parts of the small Southern African country. 

The country's main cities -- Harare and Bulawayo -- were the worst affected, as angry protesters reacted to the weekend more than doubling of fuel prices by looting several businesses, burning tyres and barricading major roads.

Over the weekend, Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced a more than 100% rise in the price of petrol and diesel, a move he said would improve supplies, but a decision which attracted harsh criticism from the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), civil society and rights groups.

Earlier, ICTA issued a warning, advising its members and travellers in and around Zimbabwe "to avoid Zimbabwean borders and unnecessary movements". 

"There's a stay away underway in Zimbabwe that we need to assess as an association if it is safe for travellers to embark on to their cross-border trips," said Juru.

"Stay away and be safe. Further information is available at our website."

African News Agency (ANA)