MAPUTO, (Reuters) – Mozambique’s army launched a retaliatory attack on the mountain headquarters of the opposition Renamo movement yesterday, a day after a rebel ambush in which seven soldiers were killed, senior Renamo and government officials said.
The assault on Renamo’s hideout in the remote Gorongosa mountains started in the middle of the afternoon, Renamo Member of Parliament Ivone Soares told Reuters after being granted safe passage by police through the front line.
A police commander in the central Sofala province said “lots of injured” were being taken to hospital after the worst flare-up in a year of tensions between government forces and Renamo, a guerrilla movement that waged a 1975-1992 civil war.
There was no other information on the number of casualties.
The fighting, a month before municipal elections that Renamo has vowed to disrupt, is likely to unnerve foreign mining investors in the southern African nation, which has recently discovered vast coal and off-shore gas reserves.
Mozambique has been one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies in the last three years, largely because of huge mining investment, although the simmering insurgency has cast a shadow over the boom.
Renamo raids in April and June in the central province of Sofala killed at least 11 soldiers and police and six civilians, and forced a temporary suspension of some coal exports to the coast by rail.