Maputo — Unknown assailants on Wednesday shot and seriously injured Manuel Bissopo, general secretary of Mozambique's main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, in the central city of Beira.
In the hail of bullets that struck Bissopo's car, his bodyguard was killed. Although wounded, Bissopo had the presence of mind to take the steering wheel and drive the car to the Renamo Beira office. He was then rushed to a private clinic.
As he entered the clinic, Bissopo told a reporter from Radio Mozambique “I was driving past the city traffic services, when I saw a car turn and someone took out an AK-47 rifle and fired.
They hit me”.
The shooting occurred in the central Beira neighbourhood of Ponta Gea, about 500 metres from the Sofala Provincial Police Command, and from the office of provincial governor Helena Taipo.
Bissopo was hit in the arm and legs, and is out of danger, reports Thursday's issue of the independent newssheet “Mediafax”. Nonetheless, he must undergo an operation to remove a bullet lodged in his body.
The Renamo provincial head of mobilization and propaganda, Horacio Calavete, told reporters “We shall react in due time. We don't know how it all happened, and we haven't yet talked with the General Secretary. He is in intensive care, and the doctors are promising to say something about his state of health at the opportune moment”.
Bissopo is also a deputy in the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, and a member of the Assembly's governing board, its Standing Commission.
On Wednesday morning, he had given a press conference denouncing what he called “atrocities” committed by the defence and security forces, whom he accused of harassing, kidnapping and murdering Renamo members and supporters, particularly in the centre of the country.
He named two of these supposed victims as Joao Capece and Sousa Paunde. He said they had been abducted from their homes on 17 January and their bodies were found two days later in Sicaze II, on the boundary between Gorongosa and Maringue districts.
Bissopo was also preparing a press conference to be given by telephone by Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama from his hideout in the Satunjira region of Gorongosa later on Wednesday. In the light of the shooting, no such event happened.