Mozambique: Police Promise to Hunt Down Those Who Ambush Vehicles

Maputo — The General Commander of the Mozambican police, Bernadino Rafael, has promised that the police will hunt down those who have staged ambushes against vehicles on main roads in the centre of the country, according to a report in Tuesday's issue of the independent newssheet "Mediafax".

There have been three ambushes in Sofala since mid-August. In the latest incident, last Wednesday, gunmen opened fire on four vehicles near the Pungue river, on the border between Gorongosa and Nhamatanda districts. Nobody was killed, but five of the vehicles' occupants suffered serious injuries.

Speaking on Monday at the basic police training centre in Matalane, Maputo province, Rafael did not draw any connection between the ambushes and the dissidents from the former rebel movement Renamo, who call themselves the "Renamo Military Junta".

Rafael simply called the attackers "criminals" and said the police have no choice but to hunt them down and hold them responsible for their acts.

The leader of the "Military Junta", Mariano Nhongo, has proclaimed himself president of Renamo, and has threatened to disrupt the campaign for the 15 October general elections. He has rejected the peace agreement which Renamo leader Ossufo Momade signed with President Filipe Nyusi on 6 August, demanding that the government hold new talks with him.

But Rafael separated the Renamo dissidents from the attacks on the roads. "The Military Junta is one thing, and the criminals who attack vehicles are another. It's the latter who are being pursued", he told reporters.

He dismissed Nhongo's threats to disrupt the election campaign. "There is nowhere where the election campaign is not taking place", said Rafael. "It is almost impossible for anybody to halt the election campaign. It's a festive occasion in the whole country. No politician has complained that there is anywhere where the campaign is not happening".

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