Harare — Relations between Zimbabwe and the international community are further strained following police's brutal assault on demonstrators, including the elderly.
In characteristic fashion, law enforcers descended on hundreds of citizens preparing for demonstrations planned by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) against the worsening economic crisis.
Earlier, police had announced a ban on protests set for last Friday. Police cited fears of violence. MDC appealed the ban but the High Court dismissed the application.
However, scores still took to the streets in the capital Harare, prompting yet another clampdown by police.
Human rights groups reported that police used whips and batons to beat up even older people and women.
Among victims is reportedly a woman with a child on her back.
The Zimbabwe Doctors Association for Human Rights reported it had treated several women for soft tissue injuries.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) denounced the brutality.
Rupert Colville, UNHCR spokesperson, said the crackdown was reminiscent to scenes in January when security forces used excessive force and live ammunition against protesters.
At least 12 people were killed but security personnel were not sanctioned, much to the disappointment of the UN.
Colville said President Emmerson Mnangagwa's government had apparently not carried out requisite investigations.
"We urge it to do so without further delay."
The envoy noted suspected state agents had allegedly abducted, arrested and physically assaulted political activists and civil society leaders ahead of the planned protests.