Maputo — For the fifth consecutive day, gunmen of Mozambique's former rebel movement Renamo on Friday opened fire against a convoy of vehicles on the country's main north-south highway, near the small town of Muxungue in the central province of Sofala.
This time, however, there were no casualties. According to a team from the independent television station STV who accompanied the convoy, gunmen opened fire on one of the military vehicles protecting the convoy when it was about six kilometers out of Muxungue.
The radiator was holed, and so the military vehicle had to turn back. But none of the other 1,000 or so vehicles in the convoy was hit, and nobody was killed or injured. STV stayed with the convoy for the full 100 kilometres to the Save river, and then accompanied the return convoy back to Muxungue. There were no further incidents.
But the attacks on the previous four days had all resulted in casualties. Staff at the Muxungue rural hospital told STV they had treated ten people wounded in the Monday to Thursday ambushes, one of whom had died of his injuries.
A military source, who requested anonymity, said that that ten people, both civilians and soldiers, had died in the ambushes. One of them was a Chinese citizen. The bodies of people who die outside of the hospital are not taken there, and so are not in the hospital statistics.
Meanwhile, Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama has threatened to divide the country in two. The same threat was made a few days earlier by the party's general secretary, Manuel Bissopo. Dhlakama's words indicate that Bissopo's bluster was not an individual aberration, but has become Renamo policy.
Dhlakama was speaking from Gorongosa district by mobile phone to a Friday meeting in Maputo of representatives of religious congregations who were trying to persuade him to end Renamo military activities. They were given the brush-off, with Dhlakama accusing the churches of conniving with the government.
With television crews filming the proceedings and listening to every word, Dhlakama then threatened that, unless the government conceded Renamo's demand for “parity” in the armed forces between Renamo and the ruling Frelimo Party, then Renamo would divide the country.
He could see no problem in this and cited, with apparent approval, several other “divided countries” - namely Sudan and South Sudan, North and South Korea, and the Federal and Democratic Republic of Germany prior to the fall of the BerlinWall.
Dhlakama did not explain precisely how he proposes to split the country or where the dividing line would be drawn.