US 'alarmed' by reports of security forces targeting, beating activists in Zimbabwe

US 'alarmed' by reports of security forces targeting, beating activists in Zimbabwe
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The U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe on Thursday said that it was "alarmed" by reports of authorities responding with violence to protests of rising fuel prices and economic unrest.

The Associated Press reported that the U.S. embassy encouraged Zimbabwe's government to restore access to social media within the country. The ban on social media has limited the spread of information about alleged abuse by Zimbabwean security forces, the AP reported.

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A local doctors' rights group said it had treated 68 gunshot wounds and numerous assault cases in recent days, the AP reported, and residents in Harare said they were tear-gassed by police as they sought food.

Evan Mawarire, a pastor and activist accused of subversion, spoke out against the violence and likened it to the tactics used by former leader Robert Mugabe, who resigned in late 2017 after 37 years in power.

Current President Emmerson Mnangagwa denounced the violence, but appeared to side with authorities, the AP reported. Mnangagwa doubled fuel prices before leaving on an overseas trip.

Residents of Zimbabwe are struggling with poverty and dim economic prospects, the AP reported. Inflation in the country rose to 42 percent in December.