Zambia arrests 55 in riots over cholera control rules

LUSAKA (Reuters) - Police in Zambia arrested 55 people in Lusaka after residents rioted over a curfew and ban on street vending imposed to control a cholera outbreak, the government said on Friday.

The riots in the densely populated Kanyama township were sparked after police sealed off a market where trading had been banned on Sunday, when the curfew was declared.

Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo said at a media briefing that the residents smashed window panes at a local police station and set ablaze one motor vehicle.

Kampyongo said police managed to stop the unrest after battling with the stone-throwing rioters for about six hours.

“One of our (police) officers has been injured and 55 suspects have been apprehended,” Kampyongo said, adding that the number of police in the area would be increased.

“All the public health laws will remain in full force.”

Cholera has killed 70 people countrywide, including 67 in the capital, since it broke out in October, Health Minister Chitalu Chilufya said at the same briefing.

Street vending and public gatherings were banned across Lusaka to prevent the spread of the disease, but residents of Kanyama, where around 370,000 people live, have been defying the order at night.

The army was deployed after locals destroyed property and looted shops, state-run Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation said earlier. Reuters did not verify the report.

Peter Zulu, a local resident, said rioters had blocked Los Angeles Road, a major thoroughfare, and that police had fired tear gas to try to disperse them.

Reporting by Chris Mfula; Editing by Peter Graff