Price protests grip southeast Mauritania, one dead

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NOUAKCHOTT, Nov 8 (Reuters) At least one protester was killed and several were injured as violent demonstrations against price increases for staple foods gripped several towns in southeast Mauritania today, witnesses said.

In Kankossa, near the border with Mali, an 18-year-old protester was shot dead by security forces when demonstrators attempted to raid the house of the regional prefect, his father told Reuters by telephone.

In Djigueni, further into Mauritania's sparsely populated desert east, witnesses said the house of the local prefect and the offices of the national telecoms company Mauritel were attacked and the chief of police was injured.

Some 40 people remained in detention in the nearby town of Timbedra, local officials said.

Record prices for grains and other crops is making life difficult for millions of people in West Africa, one of the poorest parts of the world, and raising fears of severe food shortages.

Unprecedented oil prices have increased food transport costs, while the explosion in biofuels, subsidies by some Western countries for being less environmentally damaging than fossil fuels, has also contributed to the rise.

In neighbouring Senegal, President Abdoulaye Wade last week pledged to cut the number of ministers in his cabinet and reduce government salaries, including his own, in a show of solidarity with citizens struggling with high energy and food prices.

Reuters MP VP0228

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