Maputo — Gunmen of the Mozambican rebel movement Renamo on Monday morning attacked the Inhazonia open prison, in Barue district, in the central province of Manica, and released 48 prisoners.
According to the spokesperson for the Manica provincial police command, Elsidia Filipe, the gunmen stole uniforms from the prison guards, handcuffs and cell phones, as well as setting the prisoners free.
The gang also attacked a health unit in the Honde administrative post, where they stole medicines. They moved on to the nearby Vanduzi Company, an agricultural concern, where they stole motor-bikes and agricultural material.
Filipe put the number of attackers at six. She said they had opened fire, but without causing any casualties. “We have no reports of anyone killed”, she said. “In fact, there was a lot of shooting at the Vanduzi Company farm. The workers fled”.
She said that a unit of the defence and security forces has been dispatched to Honde to pursue the gunmen. For months this area has been dangerous, and Renamo has repeatedly attacked vehicles travelling on the main road that runs from Manica to Tete province, and which passes through Honde.
“Members of our forces are there to restore order and, if possible, to bring all those involved in this crime to justice”, said Filipe.
The police are also trying to recapture the escaped prisoners. By Tuesday, six had been recaptured. “We have clues that could lead to re-arresting the others”, said Filipe. “Work is continuing in the communities to bring them back”.
The Inhazonia Open Prison is part of the Manica Regional Agricultural Penitentiary. Prisoners here work on the fields producing food.
At much the same time as the attack on the prison, in the neighbouring province of Sofala, Renamo gunmen attacked a coal train belonging to the Brazilian mining company, Vale. The train was taking a shipment of coal from Vale's open cast mine in Moatize, in Tete, along the Sena railway line, to the port of Beira.
According to the spokesperson for the Sofala police command, “the Renamo armed bandits, in the Inhamitanga region, opened fire against a train of 83 wagons pulled by three locomotives”.
The Renamo fire was directed against two of the three locomotives, and caused slight injuries to a driver's mate. Serious damage was done to the locomotives. The train was immobilized and was only moved several hours later.
Rail traffic along the Sena line was suspended, but Paulo said it resumed on Tuesday. The defence and security forces “are on the spot in order to guarantee the safety of Inhaminga, and to capture those who committed this crime”.
This is the second attack against a coal train on the Sena line in less than a fortnight. The earlier attack was on 8 December against a train of the Indian company Jindal. A train driver was seriously injured and is still under medical care.