The Equatorial Guinean authorities launched an operation on Monday to track down criminal gangs that have been terrorising the population with assaults and robberies since the beginning of the year, state television reported on Wednesday.
"It said 816 police officers and gendarmes had been deployed "permanently in places where gangs are active" and had already arrested more than 300 delinquents and criminals, 119 of whom had been transferred to prisons, TVGE said.
A curfew from 10pm to 6am has been introduced for young people under 18 "with a view to protecting citizens and their property and restoring peace and security", according to a Ministry of Security order.
It is justified by an "increase in delinquency and criminality perpetrated by young people under 25 (...) who attack passers-by at night with machetes and sometimes break into homes to kill their occupants", the order adds.
"If the people are crying, the government must react without question. I have decided to clean up the streets of Equatorial Guinea and teach the youths who commit crimes in the country the right way. Enough is enough, the people must regain their security," Vice President Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, nicknamed Teodorin, tweeted Monday.
"We are listening to the people (...) We are going to free the streets of this country from delinquents," he added on TVGE. Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, son of the head of state Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who has ruled this small hydrocarbon-rich Central African country with an iron fist for more than 42 years.
The "Operation Clean", initially launched for two months, could last until the end of the year according to state television.