3 November 2013

Mozambique: Renamo Attacks On Bridge Over Pungue

Photo: Aly Ramji / Mediapix
President Armando Emilio Guebuza of Mozambique (file photo).

Maputo — Gunmen of Mozambique's former rebel movement, Renamo, attacked a truck on Sunday morning at the bridge over the Pungue river, 15 kilometres outside Gorngosa town in the central province of Sofala.

According to a report by the independent television station, STV, the truck driver was injured because he lost control of the vehicle, which overturned. Circulation of traffic along this road has been interrupted following the attack.

Further south in Sofala, there were Renamo attacks on convoys on the main south road, on the stretch between the Save river and the small town of Muxungue on both Thursday and Friday. Despite the military escort accompanying the convoys vehicles were hit on both occasions, and three people were killed.

One of these victims, Hermenegildo Buque, was driving a truck laden with salt from Mabone in Inhambane province, He was taking it to Nhamatanda in Sofala. His body was burnt beyond recognition. The other occupant of the vehicle, the driver's mate, Alberto Alfazeam, survived.

STV, which has a crew accompanying the convoys, reported that on Saturday the road was quiet, and none of the four convoys (two in each direction) came under attack.

In the Sofala provincial capital, Beira city, army and police units on Friday morning raided the Renamo provincial office, and a house belonging to Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama. The raid came as a surprise, since Beira has been entirely peaceful.

The head of operations in the Sofala provincial police command, Guilherme Chauque, told the press that the raid was in compliance with a court order, but he declined to reveal the contents of that order.

If the raid was intended to seize arms caches, the haul was meager. At Dhlakama's house, the police found one AK-47 assault rifle, 500 bullets for assorted firearms, 11 uniforms, five pairs of boots, six military belts, two flags, and three communications radios which no longer worked.

Chauque said that in the Renamo office six people were detained and their mobile phones seized. They were all released, without charge, later in the day.

Dhlakama himself disappeared from public view after his bush headquarters at Satunjira, in Gorongosa district, was occupied by the army on 21 October. Since then his whereabouts have been unknown.

But Renamo officials claim to have been able to speak with Dhlakama and, cited by the US radio station “Voice of America”, the Renamo national spokesperson, Fernando Mazanga, says he has been in contact with various embassies to ask for political asylum. Diplomatic sources cited by the radio said that Maputo embassies have not shown any interest in granting asylum.

President Armando Guebuza has repeatedly stressed that he is willing to hold a face to face meeting with Dhlakama, an the governmet has promised that, if he returns to Maputo, he will not be harmed.

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