Two men have been shot dead in Libreville during curfew violations and protests against coronavirus restrictions, police in Gabon said on Friday.
The two were shot late on Thursday as the country was hit by violent demonstrations in poor neighbourhoods against a stepped-up curfew and a ban on leaving or entering the capital.
For three days, urban dwellers across the country banged on pots and gas cans. On Thursday, clashes broke out with police.
National police chief Serge Herve Ngoma said in a filmed statement that protesters had put up barricades and fought police with Molotov cocktails, rocks and iron bars.
“In circumstances that have not yet been established, two curfew violators in Libreville were hit by gunfire and died from their wounds,” he said, adding that an investigation was launched.
Prosecutor Andre Patrick Roponat said “people wearing ski masks in a car had opened fire”.
Gabon has moved up a curfew and blocked movement in and out of Libreville to curb a surge in coronavirus cases.
Bars and clubs have been closed for the past year, and large parts of an informal economy that many depend on have suffered from anti-COVID measures.
Gabon, with a population under two million, has reported around 13,000 cases of the virus, including 75 deaths.
One-third of the cases were reported in the past two months as a second wave hit the country, according to the health minister, Guy Patrick Obiang Ndong.