Image: A woman passes near burning tires
Nastasya Tay  /  AP
A woman passes near burning tires in a street in Maputo, Thursday Sept. 2, 2010 a day after police opened fire on stone-throwing crowds who were protesting rising prices in this impoverished country.
By
updated 9/2/2010 6:27:46 PM ET 2010-09-02T22:27:46

Angry protesters burned tires on the streets of Mozambique's capital and a TV station said at least one person was killed Thursday, a day after at least four people died in clashes between police and rioters.

Mozambique's S-TV said a young man drowned after he ran from police and stumbled into a small pond in Maputo, the capital. Police did not immediately confirm the death.

Protesters, most of them young men, had rioted Wednesday over the rising cost of food, fuel and water. They threw stones and looted shops in Maputo. Cell phone messages late Wednesday and early Thursday called for continued protests.

Protesters Thursday appeared to avoid confrontations with police and soldiers, who were on the streets in large numbers. Those gathered would scatter when police and soldiers came near, only to regroup when the patrols passed. Sporadic gunfire could be heard as police fired into the air.

Most people stayed in their homes, out of fear of renewed violence and because, with debris from the rioting making roads impassible, buses and taxi vans were not running.

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Augusto Gonas, a protester on the streets Thursday, said a call for calm from President Armando Guebuza the night before "offended us. What we need to hear is the order to lower prices."

Gilbert Mano, another protester, said if Guebuza did not come up with solutions, "we are not going to vote for him in the next elections."

Guebuza's FRELIMO party has been plagued by charges its government is corrupt and inefficient. The party has nonetheless won elections easily against a weak and divided opposition and has been in power since this southeast African country won independence from Portugal in 1975.

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In elections late last year, Guebuza won three-quarters of the presidential vote, and his party did nearly as well in races for parliament's 250 seats.

Pedro Cossa, a spokesman for the police ministry, told The Associated Press Thursday two of his officers were beaten by mobs the day before. He said the death toll was four, including two protesters shot by police, and 26 people were injured.

Mozambique state TV, citing hospital reports, said seven people were killed, including two children caught in the violence as they went home from school.

Mozambican police had declared Wednesday's marches illegal, saying no group sought permission for them.

In an address on state radio and television late Wednesday, President Guebuza said his government would try to meet demands to bring down prices, but that would not be easy. He said Mozambique produced only 30 percent of the wheat it needed, and imported the rest.

Mozambicans have seen the price of a loaf of bread rise by 25 percent, from four to five meticais (from about 11 cents to about 13 U.S. cents) in the past year. Fuel and water costs also have risen.

In 2008 in Mozambique, after a week of clashes between police and rioters that killed at least four people and seriously injured more than 100, the government cut fuel prices.

Rising prices around the world have raised concerns about a return to the political instability of 2008, when Egypt, Haiti, Kenya and Somalia were among the countries that saw rioting over the cost of living. At the time, high oil prices and growing demand for biofuels pushed world food stocks to their lowest levels since 1982.

The U.N. said Wednesday that international food prices have risen to their highest in two years, shooting up 5 percent between July and August.

The Rome-based U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization forecast this year's wheat crop at 648 million tons, down 5 percent from 2009, reflecting a cut in drought-hit Russia's harvest estimate from 48 million tons to 43 million tons.

Critics say bad government decisions are making shortages worse and accuse producers of colluding to push up prices.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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