The trouble this week started Wednesday in the capital, Maputo. Protesters, most of them young men, started marching peacefully but then began throwing stones, burning tires and looting shops. Police opened fire, and tourists and business people were trapped in their hotels or at the airport as mobs cut off the airport road. At least seven people were killed and scores injured.
The government has urged calm, saying it can do little about the high prices, which were sparked by a drop in the value of the import-dependent nation's currency. It pointed out that Mozambique grows only 30 percent of the wheat it needs. "The importation of wheat and other commodities incur high costs in international markets," government spokesman Antonio Nkutumula said.
There has been a concern that recent food prices might be similar to the spike in 2008, but that was caused largely by speculation on corn prices brought about by the short-lived and ill-conceived idea to to create biofuels instead of food out of corn.