Maputo — Gunmen of the former rebel movement Renamo on Friday staged three ambushes on roads in the central Mozambican province of Sofala, injuring three people.
This was the second consecutive day of Renamo ambushes, following Monday's threat by Horacio Calavete, Renamo head of mobilization in Sofala, that Renamo would set up road blocks on the main roads through the province.
According to the Sofala provincial police commander, Alfredo Mussa, cited in Saturday's issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”, two of the attacks were on the stretch of the main north-south highway (EN1) between the Save river and the small Sofala town of Muxungue. The third occurred in the Nhamapaza region of Maringue district.
In the first attack on the Save-Muxungue road, at about 08.00, the gunmen opened fire on a truck and a light vehicle. They caused severe damage to the vehicles and injured two people, one of them seriously. Both were taken to Muxungue Rural Hospital.
The other injury occurred in the Nhamapaza attack. A vehicle carrying four people came under fire, and one of them was seriously injured in the leg.
The Sofala police command called a press conference on Friday, stressing that traffic is continuing to flow along Sofala roads, which are being patrolled by units of the defence and security forces.
In Maputo, Interior Minister Basilio Monteiro assured reporters that “strategic operations” are under way to neutralise the Renamo gunmen. He was speaking immediately after signing an agreement with his Angolan counterpart, Angelo Tavares, on facilitating entry visas.
Monteiro took the opportunity to urge members of the armed forces and the police “to give of their best to restore security and recover threatened authority”.
Operations were under way “to pursue and neutralize these gangs”, he said. He gave no details, but claimed “there are positive signs”.
He stressed that citizens should continue to use the roads normally. “We want to calm people and assure them that we will not permit the slightest interruption in traffic along our roads”, Monteiro said. “Right now vehicles are circulating normally”.
On Saturday morning there no further ambushes were reported. A team from the independent television station STV, stationed at Muxungue, reported that traffic was flowing normally along the road.
Motorists interviewed by STV admitted that the ambushes of the two previous days had scared them, but said their work ensured that they would continue using the road. Bus drivers were worried that the Renamo attacks would ensure that fewer people will use long distance buses, thus hitting the revenue of transport companies.