Zimbabwean Police Make Show of Force

HARARE, Zimbabwe -- Zimbabwean police and troops fanned out through impoverished townships Tuesday on the first day of a two-day national strike called to protest deepening economic hardships.

Soldiers armed with automatic rifles stood at street junctions in Harare's main industrial district, where some factory gates were closed. Several banks, shops and fast food stands were also closed.

Police manned roadblocks across the capital. Four trucks carrying soldiers were seen headed to the southern town of Chitungwiza, 25 kilometers from Harare. Military helicopters flew over the nearby Epworth township, having earlier flown low over downtown Harare in a show of force. Trucks of riot police with water cannons drove through the city center.

Most downtown shops opened their doors, however. An electronics store kept one of its main doors shut, a practice seen in previous strikes enabling businesses to close in a hurry, if need be.