Zambian police arrested 28 opposition supporters on Wednesday on suspicion of rioting and making petrol bombs, the latest sign of political tensions ahead of elections on August 11, a senior officer said.
The arrests come shortly after the election commission lifted a 10-day ban on campaigning imposed on some parts of the southern African country to prevent violence.
Police confronted supporters of the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) as they destroyed ruling party campaign posters in Kasama, 850 km north of Lusaka, Northern province police chief Bonnie Kapeso said.
Other opposition supporters who had camped at UPND vice-president Geoffrey Mwamba’s home then started throwing stones at police, damaging one vehicle.
“We were left with no option but to follow them after they retreated and hid inside the house. We broke the door and fished out the ring leaders,” Kapeso said. “We had to use tear gas.”
Police found seven petrol bombs, she added.
However, the UPND said in a statement they were only empty bottles.
President Edgar Lungu has been in power for just over a year after winning a ballot triggered by the death of his predecessor, Michael Sata. Lungu faces a strong challenge from UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema.