HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe police have arrested more than 22,000 people as a blitz on illegal stores and shantytowns gathers pace, sending homeless
people fleeing to the countryside, the state Herald newspaper said Wednesday.
The United States warned Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's government the crackdown could lead to a violent backlash.
Zimbabwe's official Herald newspaper said police had arrested 22,735 people in a campaign the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
has called a political vendetta against residents of its urban strongholds.
In a statement, State Department spokeswoman Nancy Beck noted that police had clashed with shanty-dwellers during the exercise and warned its citizens
in the country to be cautious.
"The arrests have been widespread and are creating the potential of a violent backlash from the affected communities," Beck said. "However, law and
order has not broken down."
The MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, whose party gains overwhelming support from urban areas, denounced the crackdown and repeated calls for people to
"Property worth millions of dollars has gone up in flames. Families are out in the open -- without jobs, without income, without shelter without
support," Tsvangirai told a news conference. "Overnight, Zimbabwe has a massive internal refugee population in its urban areas."
Rights group Amnesty International also condemned the crackdown as a "flagrant disregard for internationally recognized human rights" and said
people should be compensated for property destroyed by the government.
Mugabe's government says the campaign is meant to stamp out black market trading and other crime in slums around Harare and other cities.
its pretty sad to see Mugabe who is suppose to be the greatest African leader in the world taking on the homeless people.