Mozambique forces take 2nd Renamo base

2013-10-29 21:55
Fighters of former Mozambican rebel movement, Renamo, receive military training in Gorongosa's mountains, Mozambique. (Jinty Jackson, AFP)

Fighters of former Mozambican rebel movement, Renamo, receive military training in Gorongosa's mountains, Mozambique. (Jinty Jackson, AFP)

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Catandica - Mozambique troops have seized a second military base of the former Renamo rebels, the presidency said on Tuesday, as tit-for-tat attacks raise concerns of renewed conflict after two decades of peace in the country.

Presidential spokesperson Edson Macuacua, said the latest raid occurred on Monday in Maringue in central Mozambique.

"There was an exchange of fire but no loss of human life," he said.

It was the second attack on a base belonging to the rebel-movement-turned-opposition-party in just over a week.

Last Monday, government forced captured Renamo's main Sathundjira bush camp in the central mountains of central Gorongosa.

The assault prompted Renamo to declare void a 1992 peace deal that ended the 16-year civil war the group launched against the socialist Frelimo state shortly after independence from Portugal.

Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama survived last week's base siege but his right-hand man, a lawmaker, was killed, the group claimed.

Since that attack, there have been sporadic outbreaks of violence in what the government claims are reprisal attacks by Renamo, while the group has accused police officers of beating up party members.

The presidential spokesperson on Tuesday said by seizing the Renamo bases, the government had militarily weakened the ex-rebels.

"Their two main bases were Sathundjira and Maringue and they have been deactivated," said Macuacua.

Weak

"They are weak at the moment," he said. "The best thing now is for them to talk and stop doing these raids."

On Saturday there was an attack on three civilian vehicles on the southern African country's main highway which killed one and injured 10. The government pointed the finger at Renamo, which denied responsibility.

Last Tuesday, armed gunmen attacked a police station in the Maringue district near Renamo's fallen base camp in an apparent act of retaliation, with no casualties reported.

Renamo became the main opposition party after the 1992 agreement, but it has lost every national election since.

Last November, Dhlakama returned to Sathundjira, saying he would retrain his soldiers for a revolution.

Government troops have been reinforced in the area since then, and there have been repeated clashes.

Officially, Renamo is demanding a bigger role in electoral bodies and its fighters' integration into the military. But analysts say the group really wants a cut of lucrative revenues from new coal mines and upcoming offshore gas exploitation.

Despite belligerent statements, both Frelimo and Renamo representatives have said they do not want to return to war.

The civil war between the two sides killed one million people and left the economy in ruins.

Analysts say the former rebel movement is not a major military threat and could wage a localised guerrilla-style insurgency at most.

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

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