The Latest: Zimbabwe groups say at least 12 killed in unrest

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — The Latest on Zimbabwe unrest (all times local):

7:10 p.m.

A collection of Zimbabwe human rights groups says at least 12 people have been killed, at least 78 have been shot and more than 240 have faced “assault, torture, inhumane and degrading treatment” in a crackdown on protests that began on Monday over a dramatic rise in fuel prices.

The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum in a statement also says 466 people have been arbitrarily arrested or detained in what it calls “massive” violations.

The statement says children as young as 9 have been reportedly tortured as security forces break into private homes.

It calls it “regrettable” that Zimbabwe’s government is blaming civil society leaders for some of the country’s worst unrest in years.

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5:55 p.m.

A magistrate in Zimbabwe says there is reasonable suspicion that a well-known pastor accused of subversion amid nationwide protests committed an offense, and has set another hearing for Jan. 31.

Evan Mawarire must remain in detention over the weekend, and his lawyer says she will apply on Monday for bail. He is accused of inciting civil disobedience via social media as Zimbabweans protest a dramatic fuel price increase.

He is one of more than 600 people arrested this week in a sometimes violent crackdown, and the government has ordered internet services shut off.

Mawarire’s lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa had argued that facts presented by the prosecution did not disclose an offense.

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12:30 p.m.

The U.N. human rights office is denouncing reported “excessive use of force” by Zimbabwe’s security forces against protesters opposed to dramatic fuel price increases and austerity measures.

Spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told reporters Friday in Geneva: “It’s very difficult to manage a situation like this, but the bottom line is that the use of live ammunition by security forces was used, excessive violence was used.”

She notes the burning of buildings and reports of looting. She says it is unclear whether “opportunists,” like hungry people searching for food, or “demonstrators” were behind it.

Shamdasani calls on all sides to refrain from violence.

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11:20 a.m.

Zimbabweans injured during a government crackdown on protests over a dramatic fuel price increase are streaming into a hospital in the capital, Harare.

People have broken legs and other injuries. A nurse attends to a man with a broken spine.

Albert Taurai tells The Associated Press he had ventured out to look for bread when plainclothes officers wearing masks beat him up.

Keith Frymore has a torn lip. The security guard tells the AP a group of uniformed soldiers attacked him at work.

Alarm is growing over the crackdown this week on a nationwide stay-at-home protest movement.

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9 a.m.

A media group says Zimbabwe’s government has again forced a “total internet shutdown” after a days-long violent crackdown on people protesting dramatic fuel price increases.

MISA-Zimbabwe shares a text message from the country’s largest telecom company, Econet, calling the government order “beyond our reasonable control.” The shutdown faces a court challenge from MISA-Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

A prominent pastor and activist who faces a possible 20 years in prison on a subversion charge is set to appear in court again on Friday. Evan Mawarire calls it “heartbreaking” to see the new government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa acting like that of former leader Robert Mugabe.

International calls for restraint are growing, while Mnangagwa prepares to plead for more investment at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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