Police arrested 55 people in Lusaka after residents rioted over a curfew and ban on street vending imposed to control a cholera outbreak, the Zambian government says.

Zambian police forces patrol the streets of Lusaka's Kanyama Township on January 12, 2018, during clashes with protesters demonstrating against a curfew and a ban on street commerce imposed by the government in the wake of a cholera outbreak.
Zambian police forces patrol the streets of Lusaka's Kanyama Township on January 12, 2018, during clashes with protesters demonstrating against a curfew and a ban on street commerce imposed by the government in the wake of a cholera outbreak. (AFP)

Zambia's army on Friday has stepped in after some residents in the capital Lusaka rioted over the removal of market vendors amid a deadly cholera outbreak.

The riots in the densely populated Kanyama Township were sparked after police sealed off a market where trading had been banned on Sunday, when the curfew was declared.

Zambian troops entered a slum in Lusaka on Friday to restore order after residents rioted over a curfew and ban on street vending imposed to control a cholera outbreak, state radio said.

The army was deployed after locals destroyed property and looted shops, the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation said.

Meanwhile, police arrested 55 people in Lusaka, the government said on Friday.

Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo said at a media briefing that the residents smashed window panes at a local police station and set ablaze one motor vehicle.

Police managed to stop the unrest after battling with the stone-throwing rioters for about six hours, said Kampyongo.

"One of our (police) officers has been injured and 55 suspects have been apprehended," Kampyongo said, adding that the number of police in the area would be increased.

"All the public health laws will remain in full force."

Cholera has killed 70 people countrywide, including 67 in the capital, since it broke out in October, Health Minister Chitalu Chilufya said at the same briefing.

Resident of Lusaka's Kanyama Township walk past a burning barricade of tyres, Zambia, January 12, 2018.
Resident of Lusaka's Kanyama Township walk past a burning barricade of tyres, Zambia, January 12, 2018. (AFP)

Riot is 'under control'

Demonstrators claimed that street trading is the only source of income for many people living in Kanyama. In recent weeks authorities have forced dozens of bars, restaurants and stores in the capital to close in an effort to stem the spread of the disease.

Peter Zulu, a local resident, said rioters had blocked Los Angeles Road, a major thoroughfare, and that police had fired teargas to try to disperse them.

"The riot is there (and) currently under control," said police spokeswoman Esther Katongo in a brief statement confirming the clashes.

Main opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema called for calm in Kanyama, a stronghold of his United Party for National Development.

Concerns over spread of disease

President Edgar Lungu said previously that he was "deeply concerned" at the spread of the disease, blaming water from shallow wells, unsanitary conditions in residential and public areas and contaminated food.

On December 30, he ordered the military to assist efforts to combat the disease.

The cholera outbreak in the southern African nation has forced schools to close and public gatherings such as church meetings to be restricted.

Cholera is a water-borne diarrhoeal disease that can kill within hours if left untreated, but is easily cured with oral rehydration, intravenous fluids and antibiotics.

Clean water and sanitation are critical to controlling transmission.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies