Maputo — The Mozambican authorities have launched an investigation into the shooting, by South African soldiers, of Mozambican frontier guards on Sunday afternoon.
According to a report in Tuesday's issue of the independent daily "O Pais", three South African soldiers crossed the border in the Ponta do Ouro area, in the far south of Mozambique, and shot dead two members of the frontier guard (which is a police unit).
The shooting did not take place on the border, but ten kilometres inside Mozambican territory, at about 15.00. When "O Pais" reporters visited the scene, on Monday afternoons, traces of blood were still visible.
The authorities asked the Ponta do Ouro "regulo" (chief), Jaime Tembe, to use his car to remove the bodies. He told "O Pais" that the shooting came as a complete surprise to all residents of the area, since nothing like it had ever happened before.
"When we reached the place where the crime happened, it was already getting dark", he said."We found the commander of the Frontier Guard, who explained that the two policemen were shot and lost their lives. The survivor showed us on photographs the bullets and the dead officers. Since it was now night, we did not go any closer, because we were also afraid of being shot".
Three members of the Frontier Guard were patrolling near Ponta do Ouro when the South Africans intercepted them.
Tembe spoke with the survivor, but he had no explanation for the shooting. "He answered that the South Africans entered Mozambique and argued with the Mozambican police, but he did not explain the reasons. A South African soldiers then fired on the Frontier Guards, and then fled, leaving behind a shirt and a hat".
Juarce Martins, head of the public relations department in the Maputo Provincial Police Command, told the reporters "as soon as we became aware of what had happened, we took measures, first to locate the bodies, and then to begin the initial investigations".
He said the Mozambican police contacted the South African authorities, and on Monday afternoon the two sides were meeting "trying to ascertain what really happened".
Mozambican Foreign Minister Jose Pacheco said a team of experts had gone to the border, and only after they reported back would the Mozambican government be able to say why the shooting had occurred.
Pacheco said the shooting should not cause any malaise in the relations between the two countries, but added that measures should be taken so that there can be no repetition of the incident.