Maputo — Gunmen of the former rebel movement Renamo killed two Mozambican soldiers and injured a further two in a clash on Thursday morning in the region of Morutane, in Mocuba district, in the central province of Zambezia, according to a report on the independent television station, STV.
Since Renamo's current military activities began in mid-2013, this is the first reported incident in Zambezia. Most of the clashes have taken place further south, in the neighbouring province of Sofala.
One of the wounded soldiers, Benson Arnaldo, told reporters, from his bed in the Mocuba rural hospital, that when a unit of the armed forces (FADM) arrived at Morutane, residents accused a local regulo (chief) of protecting Renamo armed men.
When the regulo's house was searched, two AK-47 assault rifles were found, which strengthened suspicions that he was collaborating with the Renamo militia. It seemed that the gunmen were trying to reactivate a base used by Renamo during the war of destabilisation.
The troops went into the bush with the intention of disarming the gunmen, but they were ambushed. Arnaldo put the number of Renamo men at around 30, and he said that three of them were captured.
A Mocuba doctor, Armando Rafael, said that Arnaldo's condition was a matter of concern, since he had lost a great deal of blood and was in urgent need of a blood transfusion.
In Maputo, the spokesperson for the general command of the police, Pedro Cossa, cited in Friday's issue of the daily paper “Noticias”, said that troops and police had gone to Morutane because they had received information, last Sunday, that armed men, who had apparently come from Sofala had been seen circulating in the region, and were intimidating local people.
On Tuesday, the Renamo group abducted a Morutane charcoal burner, Agostinho Fernando, when he was on his way to cut wood. He managed to escape and contacted the defence and security forces in Mocuba town. A military unit was then sent to Morutane to find out what was happening, and it was these men who were ambushed by Renamo.
Cossa said that the defence and security forces are pursuing the Renamo group in order to neutralize them and protect the population of Morutane.