Two dead and five injured is the current toll of at least four attacks by gunmen on a bus and three trucks that occurred during the Friday morning (21) on national road No. 1, between the Save River and the District of Muxúnguè.
Because of these attacks road traffic is subject to military escort from the bridge over the Save River up to Muxúnguè in Central Mozambique, and in the opposite direction.
There are unconfirmed reports that the bridge over the Ripembe River was damaged by the today's attacks.
According to a eyewitness on the spot, dozens of passenger cars and trucks have clustered near the Save River bridge, too frightened to continue their journeys.
The first attack that we were able to confirm happened shortly after 6:00 am on the Ripembe River bridge in the District of Machanga. A passenger on the bus of the private company Etrago was hit while on route from Maputo to Quelimane. The bus was hit by three shots, according to the administrator of the District of Chibabava, speaking to our reporter, and only the driver's expertise ensured the bus could carry on when the gunmen opened fire.
At the same place a truck owned by a company called TCO was attacked and deviated towards the bush where it caught fire. Two people were shot fatally, and the driver was even burned. Another person was wounded.
There are indications that two other attacks on trucks occurred this morning along the stretch of highway between Save and Muxúnguè, where at least three more Mozambican citizens were injured.
So far, there has been no official reaction from the Government authorities on these events.
The President of the Republic and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, Armando Guebuza, remains in the northern province of Niassa for Open Presidency activities.
Renamo spokesman arrested
In the early hours of Friday, Brigadier Jerónimo Malagueta, head of Renamo's Information Department (Renamo is the largest opposition party in Mozambique) was detained in circumstances that are still unclear. Rahil Khan, Political Coordinator of Renamo in the southern region, described the detention as "political kidnapping" because there is no indication of which authorities have carried out the arrest.
Khan added that this arrest "comes to harm the ongoing negotiations process".
Jerónimo Malagueta was the spokesman who read the declaration of "war" on Wednesday (19). He then announced that his party's armed forces would block road traffic on the highway linking the south to the centre and north of the country, in the section between the Save and Muxúnguè, as a way to prevent the government's military movements towards the direction of Satungira, where Renamo's leader, Afonso Dhlakama, has lived since the end of last year.
"Renamo forces will be positioned to prevent the movement of vehicles transporting people and goods, because the Government uses these vehicles to carry arms and military personnel in plainclothes, to concentrate in the vicinity of Satungira to the President of Renamo," said Jeronimo Malagueta.
On this morning's attacks Rahil Khan did not confirm whether it had been perpetrated by Renamo's men, however he stated that "Renamo announced that the road would be blocked".
Khan added that his party remains available to continue negotiations with the Government of Mozambique next Monday (24).
The spokesman of the police of the Republic of Mozambique (PRM), Pedro Cossa, confirmed that the police detained Jerónimo Malagueta outside his residence in Maputo due to the declaration of war this week. According to Cossa, the Renamo Brigadier is being held in one of the prison units of the Mozambican capital.
Speaking at the end of the morning, in a press conference, Pedro Cossa said that the attacks were conducted by armed Renamo men and confirmed the death of two Mozambican citizens, a trucker and his assistant, and that five were wounded in the string of attacks.
Translated By Francisco J. P. Chuquela