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US Condemns Arrests, Death At Zimbabwe Opposition Rally


The U.S. government has condemned the actions of the Zimbabwe government which, it says, "attacked" citizens at a planned anti-government rally in Harare Sunday during which one person was killed, a number of people were injured and some 100 arrested.

In a statement, posted on the web late Sunday the State Department said it holds Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe accountable for Sunday's actions and for the well-being of the people in custody.

The statment says the U.S. embassy in Harrare reports police have refused to inform lawyers of the whereabouts of those arrested, who include opposition Movement for Democratic Change leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, as well as Lovemore Madhuku, head of the National Constitutional Assembly.

The assembly is part of a coalition - known as the Save Zimbabwe Campaign - that organized the rally, calling it a "prayer meeting."

Police prevented the demonstration from getting started, arresting or turning away people who approached the rally site, in Harare's Highfield Township.

The Movement for Democratic Change has identified the dead man as party activist, Gift Tandare.

The MDC says police killed Tandare when they fired on innocent, unarmed people. A police spokesman says the man was a "thug" who led an attack on officers.

Authorities had said the event violated a three-month ban on protests the government recently imposed.

The Zimbabwean government is facing a surge of dissent from citizens upset by the country's food shortages, unemployment and soaring inflation rate, which recently hit 1,730 percent.

Last month, police used water cannon and tear gas to break up an MDC rally in Harare. Authorities also detained more than 80 people in five cities in a series of protests organized by a separate opposition group, the National Constitutional Assembly.

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