A Police officer throws a smoke grenade towards protesters during a anti-government demonstration in Luanda, Oct. 24, 2020.
A Police officer throws a smoke grenade towards protesters during a anti-government demonstration in Luanda, Oct. 24, 2020.

At least 100 people were held following violent weekend anti-government protests in the Angolan capital Luanda, a senior government official announced Sunday.

Anti-riot police fired tear gas and beat protesters to break up the demonstrations that attracted around 2,000 people.

Protesters set up barricades along the roads using skips, boulders, tree trunks and burning tires.

Others set a national flag ablaze, an AFP photographer saw.

Dozens of protesters, including journalists covering the demonstrations, were arrested.

 Salvador Rodrigues, an official with the interior ministry, said on state television that 103 people, including politicians from the largest opposition UNITA party, were in detention.

They were due to appear in court on Monday.

Rodrigues said six police officers were injured during the protests.

He also said a police motorcycle, a car, an ambulance and fire engine were damaged or burnt during the protests that occurred in a working-class neighborhood on the outskirts of the oceanside capital Luanda.

The demonstrations were staged to demand a new date for local government elections that were supposed to happen this year but have been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Protesters also demanded jobs and better living conditions.

In a statement on Sunday, the main opposition UNITA accused police of using excessive force to quell the protests and demanded the "unconditional release" of all the arrested people.

UNITA "denounces and condemns the arrest and beating of demonstrators by the national police, which caused chaos on the street.”   

Saturday’s protests were the latest show of disenchantment towards the government by Angolans in recent months.