Bogus soldiers behind Zimbabwe beatings

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Zimbabwe’s army said soldiers accused of beating residents following protests over fuel price hikes were impostors who tarnished the name of the military.

Security forces have cracked down on violent demonstrations that erupted last week after President Emmerson Mnangagwa increased the price of fuel steeply.

Rights groups say a dozen people died in the unrest with police puttig the figure at three.

In an echo of tactics used during the 37-year rule of Robert Mugabe, soldiers are accused of night raids and beating residents and activists in townships.

Zimbabwe National Army spokesman Alphios Makotore said those involved were not bona fide soldiers.

“The Zimbabwe National Army notes with concern allegations of misconduct and acts of violence by people purporting to be members of the organisation,” he said.

“The actions of these bogus elements have subsequently put the image of the organisation into disrepute,” his statement added, urging residents to report violations to military police.

Mnangagwa, who replaced Mugabe in November 2017 and promised a break from strong-arm politics, promised to investigate security service actions against protesters.

He wants dialogue with churches, civil society and the opposition.

Soldiers continued to patrol in central Harare on Thursday.

Zimbabwe’s Human Rights Commission accuses security forces of systematic torture. The opposition says it fears soldiers are able to shoot and kill without being held accountable, after an official inquiry said the army shot civilians to quell post-election violence last August.