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The Latest: Zimbabwe doctor group reports 68 gunshot wounds

January 16, 2019
Children use a deserted market stall into an exercise bench as business came to a standstill on the third day of protests over the hike in fuel prices in Harare, Zimbabwe, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019. Streets are deserted in Harare on Wednesday as a general strike continues for a third day to protest the government's decision to more than double the price of fuel. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — The Latest on Zimbabwe protests (all times local):

10:50 p.m.

In a grim recounting, the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights says it has treated 68 cases of gunshot wounds amid a government crackdown on protests over a fuel price hike.

Its statement reports more than 100 other cases of “assaults with sharp objects, booted feet, baton sticks” and more.

The statement late Wednesday also notes a number of bites from the alleged unleashing of police dogs, and the “dragging of patients with life-threatening conditions” to court.

Zimbabwe has faced three days of protests over what is now the world’s most expensive gasoline. The government has blamed the opposition for unrest and announced more than 600 arrests.

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8:30 p.m.

Zimbabwe’s state security minister says more than 600 people have been arrested countrywide amid protests over dramatic fuel price increases.

Owen Ncube said on state television that 214 of the people have already appeared in court.

He thanked security forces for “standing firm” to restore order and appeals to Zimbabweans to return to work.

The economically shattered country has seen three days of protests after the president announced that fuel prices have more than doubled to become the most expensive in the world.

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5:25 p.m.

Eight-two people have appeared in court in Zimbabwe’s capital on charges of public violence amid a government crackdown on protests over dramatic fuel price increases.

Internet service is returning hours after the country’s largest telecoms company told customers the government forced a shutdown.

Zimbabweans have been reporting arrests and gunshot wounds by security forces during three days of protests over the shattered economy and what is now the world’s most expensive gasoline.

Zimbabwe’s president says he is deeply saddened by what he calls “wanton violence and cynical destruction” while authorities blame the opposition for the unrest.

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3:15 p.m.

Zimbabwe’s president says he is deeply saddened by what he calls “wanton violence and cynical destruction” during days of protests over dramatic fuel price increases.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s statement in a Twitter post appears to side with authorities who have blamed the opposition for the unrest. Everyday Zimbabweans, meanwhile, are reporting arrests and gunshot wounds by security forces while the internet is cut off.

Mnangagwa is on an extended overseas trip seeking foreign investment in the shattered economy while hungry people at home face tear gas as they venture into the streets to seek bread.

The president says he understands people’s “pain and frustration” and calls for peace. He notes the right to protest but says the past three days’ demonstrations are not peaceful and legal: “There can be no justification for violence.”

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2:10 p.m.

Armed police and soldiers are breaking up groups of more than five people in Zimbabwe’s capital in a crackdown on protests over dramatic fuel price hikes.

Desperation for food has forced some people to venture out in Harare on the third day of protests over what is now the world’s most expensive gasoline. But virtually all shops are closed.

Police have fired tear gas after a crowd tried to overrun a shopping center that opened to sell bread. Soldiers with AK-47s took charge of the long line.

“This kind of life is unbearable, we have soldiers at fuel queues and now soldiers again are controlling the bread queue,” one man says. “Are we at war?”

Arrests and reported assaults continue as President Emmerson Mnangagwa is on an extended overseas trip trying to encourage foreign investment in the shattered economy.

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9:30 a.m.

Streets are deserted in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital, Wednesday as a general strike continues for a third day to protest the government’s decision to more than double the price of fuel.

Lawyers for activist Evan Mawarire say armed police are surrounding his house in Harare. Mawarire in 2016 organized the ThisFlag campaign that sparked a string of nationwide anti-government protests.

Zimbabwe’s largest telecoms company, Econet, has sent text messages to customers saying it has been forced by the government to shut down internet service. “The matter is beyond our control,” said the statement.

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