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The police in the central Mozambican province of Manica on Thursday confirmed that an ambush occurred the previous day in the locality of Pindanganga in Gondola district, in which armed men sprayed a minibus with gunfire and then set it alight.
Speaking to reporters in the provincial capital, Chimoio, the head of the public relations department in the Manica Provincial Police Command, Mario Arnanca, said that four men, wearing the green uniforms associated with the former rebel movement Renamo, had attacked the vehicle.
He put the death toll at one, but a report carried by the independent television station STV said that a second person died when the gunmen opened fire on people working in nearby fields.
“These are Renamo men who are terrorising the zone”, accused Arnanca. “When we were informed, we mobilised a police unit and fire fighters to put out the blaze, and remove the remains of the victim”.
He refused to draw any distinction between the Renamo mainstream, led by Ossufo Momade, who signed a peace agreement with President Filipe Nyusi on 6 August, and the dissident “Renamo Military Junta”, led by Mariano Nhongo, which has denounced the peace agreement, and writes Momade off as “a traitor”. As far as Arnanca was concerned, “they are all Renamo”.
Arnanca claimed that the defence and security forces are on the ground “to identify and neutralise these criminals and bring them to justice”.
Such promises, often heard in the wake of attacks, do little to soothe the fears of the local population. According to STV, Pindanganga has been abandoned. Shops have been closed, and homes locked up, as the residents walk towards Gondola town.
Those few who have opted to stay, the STV report added, do not remain in their homes at night, but sleep in the bush.