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Mozambique Calm Following Three Days of Protests

People drive past a burnt-out truck in Maputo, Mozambique, 04 Sep 2010

People drive past a burnt-out truck in Maputo, Mozambique, 04 Sep 2010

Police in Mozambique say calm has been restored to the southeast African nation after three days of riots and demonstrations.

There were reports of scattered violence around the country late Friday but officials said there was no unrest Saturday.

Riots and demonstrations began in the capital, Maputo, Wednesday after the government introduced price increases on food, fuel and other goods.

Mozambique Health Minister Ivo Garrido says 10 people died and 443 people were injured in the three days of demonstrations.

The unrest spread Friday to the central town of Chimoio where protesters used stones, clubs, and tires to prevent shops from opening.

Mozambican officials estimate damage from three days of rioting at about $3.3 million.

Local journalists have told VOA that text messages are calling for more demonstrations on Monday.

A U.S. State Department official on Friday deplored the violence. But Deputy Assistant Secretary of African Affairs William Fitzgerald said the Mozambique government must reflect on why people are taking to the streets.

Mozambique government agencies increased prices on a range of basic goods earlier this week. Officials said Thursday that the price hikes are "irreversible."

Any increase makes life harder for the average Mozambican. The United Nations development agency ranks the African country as one of the poorest in the world.

Witnesses and reporters say police used live ammunition against stone-throwing demonstrators. Amnesty International has called on police to use only non-lethal methods to control protests in the future.

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