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Renamo blames weekend attacks on ‘gov’t thugs

Mozambique’s rebel-cum political organization Renamo has blamed Saturday’s highway attacs on civilian buses and trucks with left three people dead on ‘government thugs dressed in army uniforms’.It has urged its members to respond to any attack against it anywhere in the country, including the capital Maputo.

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

Momade drew applause when he boasted 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 its headquarters there leaving one of its members dead.

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

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

Ordinary Mozambicans are increasingly apprehensive about the security situation 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 bringing an end to a 16- year civil war went on Radio Mozambique urging “all Mozambicans to stand up for peace if the violence will stop”.

Ealier in the day, Mozambique’s President Armando Guebuza had warned that he would respond firmly to deadly weekend attacks against civilian vehicles which he blamed on armed members of Renamo.

The incident threatened to aggravate hostilities between the government and Renamo which have simmered ever since the end of the civil war.

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

They said the men had 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 was also blamed for an attack on a truck, that killed three people.

Guebuza condemned the “criminal act” against civilians in remarks aired 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 response to his recent calls for dialogue with the former rebels.

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

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