Maputo - Mozambique's government on Tuesday blamed
opposition party Renamo for an attack a day earlier on a military arms depot
that killed at least five soldiers amid faltering peace talks between the two
"We were surprised by the tragic news that Renamo
unleashed an armed attack," said Jose Pacheco, the ruling Frelimo's chief
negotiator with Renamo.
Talks were set up after military skirmishes in April.
"We condemn this attack and warn that this attitude
does not help democracy," Pacheco, who is also agriculture minister, was
quoted as saying by Radio Mozambique.
Five soldiers died and two were wounded in an attack on an
arms depot near the coastal city of Beira early Monday morning, according to
"We received five bodies. They were the victims of
shooting," Beira Central Hospital spokesperson Orlando Jamal told Radio
He confirmed two more soldiers were wounded in the attack,
one of them seriously.
Other reports suggested six deaths, but officials weren't
immediately available to confirm the casualties.
The attack occurred at the start of new talks between the
two former civil war foes and amid Renamo's renewed militarisation.
Six previous rounds of talks have failed to yield a
breakthrough on any of the major issues on the table, including Renamo's threat
to boycott upcoming polls if the election law isn't amended.
Strong resemblance to raids
Relations between the parties have been tense since the end
of a 16-year civil war in 1992.
But Renamo lawmakers appeared to have been caught off guard
by the news.
"I have no knowledge of this attack," the party's
head negotiator, Saimone Macuiana, said Monday.
The attackers made off with an unspecified number of weapons
from the military arsenal according to wounded soldiers interviewed by
independent local television STV.
The attack bears a strong resemblance to raids carried out
by Renamo rebels during Mozambique's civil war on government armouries.
The raid briefly shut down the crucial Sena railway line,
which transports coal from mines in the northwest to Beira port.
"Yesterday all trains using the Sena line received
instructions to interrupt their circulation at 07:30 and to restart at 14:00,"
Acucena Paul, spokesperson for Brazilian miner Vale, told AFP.
British-Australian Rio Tinto also uses the line to export
coal from its operations in Tete province.