Mozambique bus attack controversy

2013-04-07 17:07
President Guebuza (AP)

President Guebuza (AP)

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Maputo - Mozambique's President Armando Guebuza warned on Sunday he would respond firmly to deadly weekend attacks against civilian vehicles blamed on armed members of the former rebel group Renamo.

Renamo - which denies being behind the assaults on Saturday that reportedly killed three people - in return called on its members to retaliate against any operation targeting it by government forces.

The incident threatened to aggravate hostilities between the government and Renamo which have simmered ever since the end of their 16-year civil war in 1992.

Authorities in Mozambique's central province of Sofala told state radio the assaults were carried out by men in Renamo's green uniforms and carrying AK47 rifles.

The men tried to stop a passenger bus in the region on Saturday and opened fire when the driver refused to halt, wounding two female passengers.

The group also attacked a truck, killing three people, the authorities said.

Guebuza condemned the "criminal act" against civilians in remarks carried by the state radio channel, Radio Mozambique, on Sunday.

"As the government, we will continue to fight so that our people can live in tranquility; so that our people are not intimidated; so that our people do not live in fear," he said.

Guebuza said he viewed the attacks as Renamo's reply to his recent calls for dialogue with the former rebels.

Tit-for-tat

But he left open the possibility that "perhaps they don't have means to control their forces" and that dialogue could still take place.

Renamo, meanwhile, claims the assaults were carried out by government forces dressed in its uniforms.

It urged its members to respond to any attack against it by government forces anywhere, including the capital.

"Our demobilised soldiers will retaliate against any attack and not only in the location where it occurs, but across the entire country, including the [capital] Maputo," Renamo's security and defence chief Ossufo Momad told a crowd of a few dozen Renamo supporters in Maputo on Sunday.

Renamo members applauded when Momad claimed that Renamo forces had killed 15 police officers and wounded 25 in an attack on Thursday in Muxungwe in the centre of the country in retaliation for a police raid on Renamo's headquarters there that he said left one Renamo member dead.

Authorities had said that four police officers died in the attack, and that a Renamo commander was also killed.

Momad said the raid prompted Renamo's leader Afonso Dhlakama to ask: "Are we at war or at peace?"

Ordinary Mozambicans are increasingly fearful about the instability that appears to be growing in the centre of the country, where Renamo has its strongest support.

Guebuza's predecessor, Joaquim Chissano, who signed the 1992 peace accord with Renamo putting an end to the civil war, urged on the radio: "All Mozambicans need to stand up for peace. If everyone does this, the violence will stop."

Read more on:    renamo  |  joaquim chissano  |  afonso dhlakama  |  mozambique  |  southern africa
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