Zimbabwe police fire tear gas to disperse prayer meeting

April 10th, 2011 - 1:10 am ICT by BNO News  

HARARE (BNO NEWS) — Police on Saturday stormed a church in Zimbabwe’s capital and fired tear gas at dozens of parishioners praying for peace in the country.

The Zimbabwean reported online that frightened parishioners, including children and elderly people, were forced to stampede out of the church, some through windows resulting in many sustaining cuts from broken glass. Two priests were taken into police custody.

“Police just stormed the church and began to throw teargas wantonly dismissing people. They simply ordered people to get out and get home,” Bishop Ancelimo Magaya said.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was expected to join the prayer meeting which was also a commemoration of the death of slain party activist and district leader Gift Tandare who was killed by police in March 2007.

Reverand Useni Sibanda of the Christian Alliance of Zimbabwe, organizers of the prayer meeting, said they were going to file a complaint with the government’s Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee, formed during the power-sharing agreement.

The incident happened a week after police disrupted a gathering in which Tsvangirai led his followers in unveiling the tombstones of party activists killed during the 2008 political violence.

Tsvangirai’s MDC party and Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF agreed to share power after disputes over the 2008 poll. Mugabe and his senior lieutenants are now facing visa and financial restrictions imposed by the European Union and the United States over suspected human rights abuses and vote rigging.

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