Mauritanian opposition slams crackdown on protest

AFP , Saturday 19 Feb 2011

Mauritania's security forces crackdown on protesters rising against inflation and poverty

Mauritanian police cracked down on protests against water shortages and rising prices in the south-eastern town of Vassal, an opposition party said Saturday.

"People demonstrating against water scarcity and rising prices faced repression, abuse and arrests by security forces" during the protest on Friday, according to a statement from the opposition Rally of Democratic Forces (RFD).

The RFD warned President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz's government against using security solutions to respond to demonstrations as this "could only complicate the situation", demanding the release of those arrested.

Protesters ransacked the town hall and surrounded the prefecture before being dispersed by security forces, with "several injured and arrested", according to the Mauritanian online news agency Al-Akhbar.

A local government source said Saturday everything was "back to normal" and the relevant service was hard at work to restore water to the population.

In January Aziz announced a 30 percent drop in the prices of basic commodities, following deadly riots in Algeria as well as in Tunisia where the country's longtime ruler was ousted.

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