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Mozambique clash leaves at least 2 dead

08 January 2014, 08:01

Maputo - At least two gunmen linked to the main opposition party were killed Tuesday in an exchange of fire with government forces in the small town of Pembe.

 Two other gunmen believed to be loyal to opposition party Renamo were captured, according to a news report on STV, the independent TV station.

 Mozambican Defence and security forces also suffered an unconfirmed number of casualties in the clash in southern Inhambane province, the report said.

Renamo is the former rebel group that signed a peace deal with the ruling Frelimo party in 1992, ending the long and bloody civil war that followed the departure of colonial power Portugal from the southern African country along the Indian Ocean.

 Although Renamo is the largest opposition party in Parliament with 51 of 250 seats, its officials nevertheless tore up the peace agreement in recent months after the military took over Dhlakama's bush headquarters in Sofala in October.

The military attacked Dhlakama's hideout in retaliation for attacks by Renamo guerrillas in central Sofala province, about 1 000km north of the capital Maputo. A senior Renamo leader was killed in the raid.

 Dhlakama has been on the run since then. The Ministry of Defence confirmed Tuesday's attack and said information gathered from the scene indicated that Dhlakama was behind the attacks.

The ministry called it a clear attempt to destabilize the country economically, politically and socially. Cristovo Chume, defence policy director in the Defence Ministry, said that Renamo was recruiting men to beef up its combat capacity.

The unrest has emptied out the towns of Fanha Fanha and Pembe, as people fled in fear of possible rebel attacks.

 Many residents lack transport money to ferry their belongings to safety in the nearby district centre. Men spent the weekend removing the zinc roofs from their homes to safety, and business activity had been completely paralysed.

 On Monday, police spokesperson Delcir Mariquel in Inhambane had denied the presence of the armed men in Pembe.



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