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Harare - Zimbabwe has sent a team from its anti-terrorism unit to Equatorial Guinea ahead of the African Cup of Nations which begins on Saturday, a newspaper reported.

The Herald said on Friday that Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema asked his Zimbabwean counterpart Robert Mugabe to send the elite team, which is "providing VIP security, intelligence as well as manning key institutions".

Equatorial Guinea will meet all expenses.

The crack team is well-armed, according to the report.

Mugabe's close relationship with Nguema was cemented in 2008 when Zimbabwe agreed to extradite British mercenary Simon Mann to Malabo, where he was accused of plotting to overthrow Nguema's government.

Mann had already spent over three years in prison in Harare. He was sentenced to 34 years in jail in Malabo but released on humanitarian grounds in 2009.

The Herald said the deployment "is being viewed as a sign that Zimbabwe... is capable of taking a leading role in matters affecting the continent."

The venue of the 30th edition of the tournament had to be switched from Morocco to Equatorial Guinea two months ago following concerns about the spread of the Ebola virus.

Read more on:    teodoro obiang nguema  |  zimbabwe  |  equitorial guinea  |  west africa

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