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Zimbabwe steps ups security at diamond fields after govt seizes firms

25 February 2016, 08:30

Harare - Zimbabwe said Wednesday it would boost security at the country's diamond fields following reports that illegal miners were flocking to the sites after the government ordered all unlicensed gem mining firms to shut down.

The state-run Herald newspaper said miners "stormed" a diamond field in Marange in the east of the country just hours after the government announced Monday that it would be seizing companies that were operating without a licence and had spurned an offer to join a state conglomerate.

Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa told reporters on Wednesday that after assessing the situation, police said they required "a bit more deployment and if they are given that they will be able to stabilise the situation".

No details were given about how many officers would be deployed.

Also read: Zimbabwean president Mugabe turns 92

Chidhakwa added that two people were arrested after they strayed into the Marange fields to pan for diamonds.

Zimbabwe's diamond industry has long been tainted by reports of rights abuses, including the killing and torture of unauthorised miners.

When diamonds were discovered in the Marange district in 2006, they drew in thousands of small-time miners hoping to get rich quickly.

The army cleared the area in late 2008, when Human Rights Watch says more than 200 people were killed.

Reports of abuses led to a ban of gem exports from Marange between 2009 and 2011.


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