Mozambique cop dies in shoot-out with ex-rebels

2012-03-08 17:34

kalahari.com

Maputo - A Mozambican policeman died on Thursday in a gunfight between police and veterans from the former rebel movement Renamo who had been camping outside the group's headquarters, officials said.

The veterans opened fire when a police patrol was changing guard in the early hours of the morning near the headquarters of Renamo, now the main opposition party, in the northern city of Nampula.

"It was a normal patrol, but we had to reinforce our troops and return fire when they started shooting," said Nampula police spokesperson Joao Inacio Dina.

Up to 300 former Renamo fighters have been camped out at the party's headquarters, located on the Road of the Fearless, for the past two months.

They said they were waiting for party leader Afonso Dlhakama to call for anti-government protests.

Dina told AFP that one police officer died after being shot in the head and abdomen. Another officer and three Renamo members were wounded, he said.

"We now have arrested 34 guards of the Renamo leader," he added. Officers had also seized five AK47 assault rifles, a pistol, and 86 bullets, he said.

According to local media reports, the soldiers had already been harassing pedestrians. They had even taken one elderly man hostage, accusing him of being a spy for the ruling Frelimo party.

Renamo waged a 16-year civil war against Frelimo that devastated the economy until peace was signed in 1992.

Renamo chief Dlhakama had told the veterans they would receive long-awaited war pensions, some of the former fighters told A Verdade newspaper.

Since first multi-party elections in 1994, support for the opposition party has steadily declined at the polls.

Last year Dhlakama said he would rebuild barracks for veterans and prepare for an anti-government revolution.

Renamo's spokesperson was unavailable for comment.

Read more on:    frelimo  |  renamo  |  mozambique  |  southern africa
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