Maputo — An angry crowd on Monday morning attacked and burnt down the home of the local police commander in Mandimba district, in the northern Mozambican province of Niassa, reports Tuesday's issue of the independent daily "O Pais".
The commander's house became a target because the crowd suspected that the police were responsible for the murder on Sunday of an informal currency trader. The murderers also seized an unspecified amount of money that had been in the possession of their victim.
A Mandimba resident told reporters that, according to the murdered man's family, his killers included a man wearing a police uniform. The victim made a living out of exchanging Malawian kwachas for the Mozambican currency, the metical. This activity is illegal, but happens along Mozambique's borders in full view of the police, and is not generally repressed.
When the news of the murder spread in Mandimba town, dozens of people took to the streets, attacked and burnt the police commander's house, and also destroyed two cars, one belonging to the district commander, and the other to the local head of the traffic police.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, the Niassa Provincial Police Commander, Aguilasse Mada, said the demonstration had been so serious that the Mandimba police had to call for reinforcements from the police units stationed on the Malawian border. "A force was sent to Mandimba district to restore order", he said.
He did not say whether anyone had been injured in the demonstration, but said the police are looking for those who instigated the rioting "so that they can be held responsible for their acts".
He denied that the police were responsible for the death of the currency trader, and said the police had been obliged to fire into the air to disperse the crowd.
"We didn't have much room for dialogue, because they began to throw stones at the police command", said Mada.