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Tanzanian police arrest 90 after gas pipeline protest

The map of Africa/AFP

The map of Africa/AFP

DAR ES SALAAM, May 23 – Tanzanian police have made sweeping arrests after a day of protests in which one person was killed in a southeastern town over a gas pipeline project, the government said Thursday.

“Several houses and a lot of property were badly damaged,” home affairs minister Emmanuel Nchimbi told parliament Thursday, a day after the riots in the coastal town of Mtwara, close to the border with Mozambique.

Police, who on Wednesday fired tear gas to break up the riots, had arrested more than 90 people and the town is “now calm and under control”, Nchimbi said, adding that one person had died.

The area is rich in natural gas, but many locals have reportedly opposed the planned construction of a pipeline fearing they would not benefit from the resource, a move condemned by President Jakaya Kikwete.

“Natural resources, regardless of the region where they are found, are the property of all Tanzanians,” Kikwete said in a television broadcast late Wednesday, in which he appeared visibly angry.

Riots began after parliamentary debates discussing the pipeline project.

One protester was killed in the riots, Nchimbi said, adding that demonstrators torched several buildings including the offices of local government offices, the ruling party, the house of the journalist working for the state broadcaster and a court house.

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