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Zimbabwe protests: Crackdown is just a 'taste of things to come'

The Zimbabwean government says the security forces' response to this week's protests in which a number of people have reportedly died is just "a foretaste of things to come".

News of a violent crackdown has emerged despite the government blocking social media sites.

Local rights groups said at least 12 people had been killed and many more beaten by security forces.

The protests were sparked on Monday by a sharp rise in the price of fuel.

The presidential spokesman George Charamba, speaking to the state-owned Sunday Mail newspaper,

"The MDC leadership has been consistently pushing out the message that they will use violent street action to overturn the results of [last year's] ballot," he said.

The opposition rejected a court ruling in August that confirmed that President Emmerson Mnangagwa had beaten MDC candidate Nelson Chamisa.

Over the course of the week riot police have clashed with protesters in the capital, Harare, and the southern city of Bulawayo after they lit fires and blocked roads using rocks.

On Thursday, Mr Chamisa tweeted that his thoughts were "with the victims of violence".

"Despite the vitriol," he added, "we maintain a dignified position befitting our role as led by the people."

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