US issues alert for citizens in Lilongwe

The United States of America government on Thursday swiftly issued an alert for its citizens in Malawi’s capital Lilongwe, warning them to exercise extreme caution following a fracas that ensued between riot police and streets sellers.

“We suggest having several days’ worth of provisions in your residence, as we saw stores close unexpectedly during July 20 (anti-government) demonstrations,” reads the alert e-mailed to all American citizens living in the city.

The United States government routinely issues such advisories.

One of the victims of the skirmishes

Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse hundreds of vendors who angrily protested against the dismantling of their stalls by Lilongwe City Assembly authorities.

The vendors stoned vehicles, shops and looted in some shops belonging to Chinese and Indian traders.

Malawi Defence Force soldiers were deployed to restore calm.

Police has since arrested about 20 vendors and charged them with “illegal selling”.

Lilongwe police spokesman John Namalenga said others would be charged for conduct likely to cause breach of peace.

There several injuries recorded of vendors during the skirmishes and Nyasa Times correspondents says some of them were refused treatment at public hospitals.

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