Maputo — A group of gunmen from Mozambique's former rebel movement, Renamo, attacked and burnt a truck, killing its driver, in the district of Rapale, in the northern province of Nampula, on Tuesday night, according to a report on the independent television station, STV.
The attack took place at Mutivaze, about 45 kilometres from the provincial capital, Nampula city. The truck was carrying about 20 passengers, most of whom were taking agricultural products for sale in the city.
At least ten of the passengers are unaccounted for, and it is feared they were kidnapped by the Renamo gang in order to carry goods looted from the truck. After they had taken what they wanted, the gunmen set the truck on fire.
A police team arrived at the spot at about midday on Wednesday, and only then was the driver's body removed.
Survivors said the truck was ambushed by four armed men who stood in the road and raked the vehicle with gunfire.
The attackers are thought to be members of Renamo's “Presidential Guard”, which used to protect the house owned by Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama in Nampula city. They were reported to have left the city on 23 October, and the authorities feared they were trying to establish a military base in Rapale.
On Tuesday morning, the Mozambican armed forces (FADM) overran that base in the locality of Napome, without any casualties recorded on either side. But the gunmen seem to have dispersed and may be heading for other parts of the province.
The immediate result of the murder of the truck driver is that other motorists are unwilling to use the road, national highway 13, from Nampula to Mecuburi, after nightfall.
Renamo has also continued to attack vehicles on the stretch of the main north-south highway between the Save river and the small town of Muxungue, even though they are travelling in convoys, under military escort.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, the deputy director of defence policy in the Defence Ministry, Manuel Mazuze, said there had been attacks on Tuesday and on Wednesday morning near Muxungue, in which 13 people were injured, two of them seriously.
On Tuesday a bus, travelling from Nampula to Maputo, came under fire, while on Wednesday the target was a truck. Since some of the bullets hit the fuel tank, the truck burst into flames.
Mazuze said the FADM “repelled the attack and searches are continuing to capture those responsible.
On Tuesday, an FADM patrol also came under attack at Nhancomba, near the Renamo headquarters of Satunjira which was occupied by the army on 21 October. Mazuze said that one soldier was wounded, and the attackers withdrew into the bush.