70 killed in fresh Frelimo-Renamo clashes

Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama. His personal guard was disarmed and his house in Beira blockaded by police FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Seventy people have been killed in clashes between Renamo and Mozambican government forces and those of the opposition Renamo, sources told local media Thursday.

According to DW radio, government forces stormed an opposition barracks at Morrumbala district in Zambezia province where the fighting started.

Sources said the firing of gunshots started around 3pm Wednesday (October 28) and the situation deteriorated in the evening.

Hundreds of civilians have since fled their homes, public transportation was cancelled and schools closed.

Ms Elsidia Filipe, police spokeswoman in Zambezia province, confirmed the clashes but refused to give details about the dead and wounded. She said she hadn’t received clearance from her superiors to discuss the matter.

Canalmoz newspaper reported in its Thursday edition that the government’s platoon had lost almost all its firearms on the ground and the guns were confiscated by Renamo troops.

Peace is still elusive in the southern African country as the government and the main opposition party have failed to reach a peace agreement following the 2014 October general election.

Personal guard

The former rebel Mozambican National Resistance (Renamo) became the official opposition after a peace treaty in 1992 ended a 16-year civil war fought with the ruling Mozambique National Front party (Frelimo).

Meanwhile Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama’s prolonged absence and public silence has been raising concern among civil society in the southern African country.

“He (Afonso Dhlakama) will appear again in public if Renamo and the government build permanent trust between them. The government has to let Mozambicans know where he is,” Mozambican Anglican church bishop Dinis Sengulane told VOA radio Thursday.

Mr Dhlakama has not appeared in public for 20 days now after his personal guard was disarmed by the Frelimo government in his house and his whereabouts remain unknown.

Mozambican police had blockaded the opposition leader’s house in the central city of Beira.

Two weeks before, Mr Dhlakama’s convoy was involved in a roadside gun battle in which 24 people died.

Renamo’s spokesperson António Muchanga told journalists in Maputo that their leader is in Beira, has a right of privacy and nothing obliges him to appear in public.

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