Maputo — The Mozambican police shot two people dead when celebrations of the end of the muslim fasting month of Ramadan degenerated into a riot in Lichinga, capital of the northern province of Niassa, according to the Beira daily paper "Diario de Mozambique".
The clash happened on Monday, when the police banned a group of about 200 people from celebrating the end of Ramadan, because such gatherings are prohibited under the rules of the state of emergency, imposed by the government in the fight against the Covid-19 respiratory disease.
Most religious groups have accepted that they cannot hold large gatherings, since these are channels through which the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 may spread.
But this muslim group in Lichinga insisted on a public celebration, and when it was banned they attacked a local police station.
The Niassa provincial police spokesperson, Alves Mathe, said that when the crowd tried to sack the police station, the police reacted by shooting into the air. Five people were hit by what he called "stray bullets". He did not explain how bullets shot in the air could kill people.
The five people hit were taken to hospital, where two of them died.
Mathe said that during this confusion another group, headed by a leader of a Lichinga mosque, burnt down the house of a local "regulo" (chief), for reasons as yet unknown.
Violent incidents connected with Covid-19 have also hit the central city of Beira. According to the Sofala Provincial Director of Social Matters, Priscilla Felimone, in the populous neighbourhood of Munhava unknown individuals have made threats to lynch people displaying symptoms associated with Covid-19 - with the result that people suffering from what may be no more than ordinary seasonal flu are too scared to go to the health centres.
Felimone said that when health staff noted a decline in the number of people seeking help for flu, "we looked for the reasons and we were told that persons unknown are threatening to lynch any resident of Munhava who has Covid-19".
"Immediately we went to work and involved the local authorities in work to overcome this situation", she said.
The provincial health authorities also had to counteract rumours that the disinfection passages in Beira had been dismantled because there is no coronavirus in Sofala - when the real reasons were that the disinfection passages do not work, and may damage people's health rather than improving it.