|Demonstrators burned barricades and tyres during protests over soaring prices in Maputo [Reuters]
At least six people have been shot dead in Mozambique's capital during clashes between police and demonstrators protesting against rising food and fuel prices.
Police opened fire on protesters throwing stones and setting fire to tyres and barriers, but it was not immediately clear whether their bullets were responsible for the deaths.
According to the AFP news agency, one boy was shot in the head and left dead in the street, while a police spokesman told Reuters two children were killed in the violence.
Red Cross rescue teams in the impoverished southern African country said demonstrators were killed during separate protests in Maputo on Wednesday.
"We have had 42 cases at the hospital. Twenty-three were wounded by gunshots. Two are being operated on at the moment. Nineteen have wounds from physical attacks. One died," Antonio Assis da Costa, director of emergency services at the Red Cross, told AFP.
High price of bread
The protests are believed to have been triggered by a 30 per cent rise in the price of bread in the past year, following soaring wheat prices around the world due to severe drought in Russia and eastern Europe.
Mozambique also is heavily dependent on imports from South Africa, which have become more expensive in recent months as the South African rand currency has strengthened.
"I can hardly feed myself. I will join the protest because I'm outraged by this high cost of living," Nelfa Temoteo, who lives in the capital's densely populated Malhazine suburb, said.
Police appealed for calm on state radio and TV on Wednesday, and said they had made an unspecified number of arrests.
Violent protests over high costs, which left at least six people dead, erupted in Mozambique two years ago, when global food prices jumped.