Zimbabwe's longtime president has praised his security forces while warning against violent protests, days after the police crushed an anti-government march in the capital, Harare.

President Robert Mugabe spoke Monday at a commemoration event notable for the absence of some of his previously loyal wartime allies.

The commemorations are held annually to honor the southern African country's dead heroes, particularly those who fought in the 1970s independence war.

Leaders of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association, who broke away from the 92-year-old president in July, boycotted the event. Mugabe did not directly address the veterans.

Instead, he warned the opposition and civil rights activists against continuing with a wave of protests that have hit the once prosperous but now economically struggling former British colony.