58 feared dead in Mozambique clashes
The Mozambican military on Monday seized another bush camp from the rebel Renamo movement amid escalating political tension, state media reported yesterday.
The military camp in Maringue District, in central Sofala Province, was seized on Monday after government soldiers suffered an ambush by suspected Renamo militants in the region.
A Bloomberg report, citing an unnamed military official, said the clashes between the army and Renamo claimed 58 lives.
The clash at Maringue in central Mozambique resulted in the death of 17 soldiers and 41 members of the militia, the official said, asking not to be named because the official death toll hadn’t been released.
However, Manuel Mazuze, deputy national director for defence policy, said at a Press conference in the capital Maputo yesterday that the government was not aware of any casualties.
“I confirm there were clashes today but no victims to report, at least on our side,” he said.
Renamo spokesperson Fernando Mazanga confirmed the clashes and when asked about casualties said, “We will no longer show off numbers as in no case does it make us proud.”
Renamo, once backed by the white-minority governments of Rhodesia, which is now Zimbabwe, and South Africa, fought a 17-year civil war against Frelimo until signing a peace agreement in Rome in 1992. It has served as the main opposition party for two decades.
The clashes are the worst since the signing of the peace agreement.
The army attacked Renamo’s main base on October 21 after a series of attacks on public transport and a government arms depot this year led to the temporary closure of rail lines used by Rio Tinto Plc (RIO) and Vale SA (VALE5) to export coal.
Renamo unilaterally announced that the 1992 Rome Treaty had ended after government troops raided its leader Afonso Dhlakama’s bush camp in Gorongosa last week. A senior Renamo commander was killed in the raid, while Dhlakama escaped. His whereabouts are not known.
Mozambique’s political tension flared up, as the country is preparing for local government elections in November and a presidential election next year. Renamo has vowed to boycott and destabilise the elections. — Xinhua-Bloomberg-HR