Zimbabwe accuses 'rogue elements' of inciting violence against protesters

Protesters gather near a burning tire during a demonstration over the hike in fuel prices in Harare, Zimbabwe, on  January 15.

Harare, Zimbabwe (CNN)Security forces in Zimbabwe have blamed recent violence against protesters -- including assault, robbery and murder -- on "rogue elements" who had stolen army uniforms.

On Saturday, Charity Charamba, spokeswoman for the Zimbabwe Republic Police, said some of the army uniforms worn by criminals were stolen "during the recent riots in Epworth and Chegutu."
Three days of violent and deadly protests erupted last week after President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced a 150% increase in fuel prices, which he said was meant to ease the impact of months of fuel shortages.
    On Wednesday security forces shot five people dead and wounded another 25 as they battled demonstrators in Harare. Human rights organizations blamed the police and the army for the violence.
    Asked Saturday if the "rogue elements" had also stolen guns and army vehicles, Charamba declined to answer, telling reporters she would "answer your questions in due course."
    Some Zimbabweans are calling for additional protests next week, despite the violence.
    Army Gen. Overson Mugwisi told reporters Saturday that police and military forces were prepared for the next wave of protests.
    Security has been put in place so "members of the public and businesses (can) go about doing their business," Mugwisi said.
    "The Zimbabwe Defense Forces and security services remain committed to the provision of safety and security to all members of the