Gabonese authorities say more than 1,100 people have been arrested over two days of violence in the country with at least three people dead.
The country’s Interior Minister Pacome Moubelet Boubeya said between 600 and 800 people were arrested in the capital Libreville while some 200 to 300 others were arrested in other parts of the country.
Boubeya disclosed this at a press briefing on Thursday, the second day of violent protests against last Saturday’s presidential election results which named incumbent president Ali Bongo as winner.
Earlier on Thursday, the national police chief said over 200 people had been arrested for looting in the capital Libreville.
“We have arrested more than 200 looters since last night,” Jean-Thierry Oye Zue told AFP adding that “looting is currently continuing in the poorer districts.”
Oye Zue said six police officers have been injured and several civilians had “most likely” been hurt.
Thousands of angry protesters took to the streets on Wednesday to protest the victory of president Ali Bongo whom they accuse of rigging the polls. Bongo who came to power after the death of his father in 2009, secured 49.80 percent of the votes to win last Saturday’s poll.
Official results indicate his main rival and former AU Commission Chair, Jean Ping polled 48.16 percent of the votes, a figure he has dismissed as fraudulent.
Ping told the BBC that a presidential guard helicopter bombed his headquarters overnight, killing two people. A government spokesman has however explained that the operation was to root out “criminals” who had set fire to the parliament building on Wednesday.
Ali Bongo’s office has accused Ping’s camp of planning “coordinated attacks on symbols of the state” adding that security forces had in response encircled Ping’s headquarters and clashed with his supporters, resulting in one death, Reuters reports.
Libreville residents said internet access was cut on Thursday but social networks including Twitter and Facebook stopped functioning overnight.