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Zimbabwean Soldiers Rampage Over Cash Shortage


Witnesses in Zimbabwe say police have clashed with soldiers who went on a looting spree in the capital, Harare.

Both civilians and police fought the estimated 100 rampaging soldiers Monday, after they took money from people they accused of being illegal foreign currency dealers. The clashes ended after the soldiers were rounded up by other security forces.

Media reports say the soldiers resorted to robbery after they were not paid their salaries.

Zimbabwe is mired in a deep economic crisis marked by hyperinflation and chronic shortages of everything from food to fuel to cash.

State media said authorities have shut off Harare's water supply because there are no more decontamination chemicals. Tainted water is blamed for a cholera epidemic that has claimed more than 400 lives.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said the humanitarian crisis has reached "catastrophic" levels.

The British charity, Save the Children, says another contagious disease, anthrax, has killed two children and one adult in Zimbabwe's Zambezi Valley, and could wipe out 60,000 livestock.

The group reported Monday that people are so hungry, they are eating the meat of dead animals, even if the animals were infected with disease. Anthrax usually only afflicts animals, but it can be transmitted to humans who handle or eat the infected animals.

Health Minister David Parirenyatwa told VOA Zimbabwe's political and economic crises must quickly be resolved to address the country's many challenges.

Power-sharing talks between President Robert Mugabe and Tsvangirai have shown no signs of progress.

President Mugabe blames Zimbabwe's problems on Western sanctions against his government. But critics say Mr. Mugabe has destroyed the country through reckless policies and mismanagement during his nearly three-decade-long rule.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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