Malawian Officials Say At Least Eight Killed in Protests

Posted July 21st, 2011 at 7:55 am (UTC-5)
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Riot police fanned out across Malawi Thursday, following the deaths of at least eight people during violent anti-government protests.

Officials say the deaths occurred in the northern city of Mzuzu, where police clashed with demonstrators Wednesday. Similar clashes took place in the capital, Lilongwe, and in the city of Blantyre.

Witnesses say demonstrators looted shops and set cars on fire. Police say they used tear gas to disperse the protesters.

The protesters blame President Bingu wa Mutharika for rising prices and eroding civil liberties.

The president was expected to address the nation Thursday.

Mr. Mutharika has been criticized for his handling of a diplomatic disagreement that prompted Britain to cut economic aid to its former colony.

The dispute began after Mr. Mutharika deported Britain's envoy for describing the president in a leaked cable as “autocratic and intolerant.”

Pop star Madonna, who has adopted two children from Malawi and runs charities there, said in a statement she is deeply concerned about the violence. She said the country must find a peaceful solution to its problems so donors are confident their money will be used efficiently.