Maputo — The Mozambican police on Friday arrested seven gunmen of the former rebel movement Renamo who were smuggling 15 AK-47 assault rifles through the southern province of Inhambane.
According to a report on the independent television station STV, the men were detained in Morrumbene. Acting on a tip-off, the police stopped the pick up truck they were using, and found the guns hidden in sacks of maize, plus their ammunition clips and 2,842 rounds of ammunition.
“We were informed of the transport of guns in vehicles belonging to Renamo”, the Inhambane provincial police commander, Raul Ossufo, told reporters. When the Renamo group realized the police were lying in wait for them, they tried to open fire, near the bridge separating Morrumbene district from Maxixe city, “but they were all arrested. That night two of them tried to escape, but they were rearrested in the town of Quissico, in Zavala district”.
Ossufo said that one of the group, Felizardo Muchanga, belonged to the Renamo unit which reoccupied the old Renamo base at Catine, in Homoine district, at the turn of the year, and took part in the attack on Mavume locality, in the neighbouring district of Funhalouro, on 14 January. He escaped from the subsequent attack by the armed forces (FADM) against the camp the group was setting up at Mabelecula, near Mavume.
Another of the group, Alexandre Agostinho, said that the guns had all come from the Renamo bases in Gorongosa district, in the central province of Sofala, and were intended for use in Inhambane. If so, the guns had made a detour via Manica province first, for the police say the truck started its journey in the Manica provincial capital, Chimoio.
The driver said he had indeed set out from Chimoio, with instructions to drive to Maputo. But when he reached Maxixe, his superior (whose name he did not reveal) told the group to stay there. On Friday he was told to go to the aid of colleagues whose vehicle had broken down in Morrumbene. When they reached the other vehicle, they fell into a police ambush and were arrested.