Angolan police detain, beat protesters: activist

LUANDA Wed May 28, 2014 8:47am EDT

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LUANDA (Reuters) - Angolan police have beaten and detained 20 people protesting against the killing of three activists by security forces, demonstrators said on Wednesday.

Neither police and nor Interior Ministry officials responded to several requests for comment about Tuesday's incident. Security forces have in the past denied using violence on protesters, saying detentions are made to maintain public order.

The youth-driven Angolan Revolutionary Movement has staged several protests since 2011, accusing security forces of murder and President Jose Eduardo dos Santos of restricting political freedom during his 34 years at the helm of Africa's No. 2 oil producer.

"Police detained 20 of us as soon as we arrived at Independence Square for the protest," activist Manuel Nito Alves told Reuters. "Inside the police van they beat us with sticks, drove us to Catete, 60 km away from Luanda, and released us there several hours later."

The demonstration was organized through social media to demand justice for the killings of three opposition activists by security forces in the last two years.

Two activists involved in protests to demand payment of state wage arrears were killed by security forces in May 2012, prosecutors said in November. At least four security officials have been investigated but no trial date has been set.

An opposition party protester was shot dead by presidential guards after putting up protest posters in November last year. Police say he was shot while fleeing detention.

Youth activists are demanding the accused be put on trial and a commission be set-up to investigate the deaths.

Dos Santos secured a new five-year term with a big election win in 2012 and has been credited for Angola's rapid economic growth after a 27-year civil war ended in 2002.

But he has also long been accused by opponents and international rights groups of doing too little to fight widespread police violence, graft and poverty.

(Reporting by Shrikesh Laxmidas; Editing by Joe Brock and Alison Williams)

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