Maputo — Three Mozambican soldiers died on Tuesday morning in an ambush by gunmen of the former rebel movement Renamo in the central district of Gorongosa, according to a report in the independent daily newsheet “Mediafax”.
16 members of the armed forces (FADM) and two civilians were injured in the attack, which occurred at about 09.00 on the road between the Vunduzi administrative post and the locality of Casa Banana.
Local sources cited by the paper said that two FADM trucks left Vanduzi early in the morning carrying supplies for a military position at Casa Banana. (This locality, named after a long defunct shop, used to be the Renamo headquarters from 1981 to 1985, when it was overrun by Mozambican and Zimbabwean troops).
The trucks reached Casa Banana without incident, but on the return journey they fell into the deadly ambush. A local source said the Renamo gunmen “attacked and then disappeared into the bush”.
Other FADM vehicles went to the ambush site to remove the bodies and take the wounded to Gorongosa hospital. The most seriously injured were transferred to Beira Central Hospital.
The director of the Beira hospital, Cesar Macome, confirmed that 18 people had been wounded in the attack.
He said that some of them would need intensive care.
When the FADM entered Gorongosa town, they fired into the air. This may have been intended to clear people out of the way, as the soldiers rushed their wounded comrades to hospital. But the result was panic among the crowd attended the opening ceremony of the election campaign of the ruling Frelimo Party in the municipality, addressed by the Sofala provincial governor, Felix Paulo.
Hearing three shots ring out, the crowd scattered in all directions - a moment of panic caught on camera by a crew of the television station STV. But a few minutes later, when it was clear that no attack was under way, the ceremony resumed.
A second Renamo attack on Tuesday occurred on the main north-south highway. Although vehicles move under military escort on the most dangerous stretch of the road, the 100 kilometres between the Save river and the small town of Muxungue, Renamo has continued to launch attacks on the convoys almost every day.
On this occasion, one soldier was killed and three civilians, including a pregnant woman, were wounded. The wounded were taken southwards to Vilankulo District Hospital, in Inhambane province.