Mozambique: Police Investigating Quelimane Arson

Maputo — Quelimane (Mozambique), 17 Sep (AIM) - The Mozambican police in the central city of Quelimane say that are working to detain the group of five individuals who, on Monday morning, set fire to the house of Ines Alculete, the mother of the mayor of Quelimane, Manuel de Araujo, who is also the candidate of the main opposition party, Renamo, for the position of governor of Zambezia province.

Speaking to AIM, the spokesperson for the Zambezia provincial police command, Sidner Lonzo, said that Alculete was not at home when the attack occurred (at about 01.00). The only person in the house was a four year old child, rescued by the security guard, who managed to escape after he had been tied up and gagged by the arsonists. (This contradicts an earlier report on a Quelimane radio station that four people were in the house and escaped unharmed).

Lonzo said the attackers had told the guard they had come from the central city of Beira "with the specific mission of killing the owner of that house".

Citing the guard again, Lonzo said the attacking group had left behind a machete and ten posters of Renamo, its leader, Ossufo Momade, and Mariano Nhongo, the leader of the dissident Renamo group, calling itself the "Renamo Military Junta".

"In front of the photo of Nhongo was an X, meaning that people should vote for Marano Nhongo", he said.

This makes little sense, since Nhongo's name is not on the ballot paper. This is the first time AIM has heard of posters with Nhongo's image. Since Nhongo is trying to overthrow Momade, and has declared himself President of Renamo, no-one who knows anything about the internal politics of Renamo would be carrying propaganda materials for both of them.

Lonzo said evidence was collected at the ruined house by a team from the National Criminal Investigation Service (SERNIC). "It's premature to say whether there are clues or not", he told AIM. "But the teams are on the ground working at full speed to solve this case as quickly as possible".

Araujo, standing in the charred wreckage of the house, on Monday accused the ruling Frelimo Party and President Filipe Nyusi of responsibility for the attack, claiming that they had not distanced themselves from violence against Renamo members.

The Frelimo Central Committee Secretary for Communication and Image, Caifadine Manasse, rejected the accusation. He said Frelimo "repudiates criminal acts, and we urge the authorities to clear up this incident as quickly as possible".

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