MAPUTO (Reuters) – Suspected Renamo guerrillas ambushed a passenger minibus in central Mozambique yesterday, killing one person and injuring 10 more in an attack condemned by President Armando Guebuza, state media said.
Fears of hit-and-run attacks by armed partisans of Renamo opposition leader Afonso Dhlakama have increased after the army overran Dhlakama’s base in central Sofala province on Monday, forcing him to flee into the bush.
Former rebel group Renamo fought a 16-year civil war against the ruling Frelimo party which ended in a 1992 peace pact that established multi-party politics. Renamo has lost every election since 1992 and Dhlakama’s party, which is demanding electoral reforms, said on Monday it was abandoning the peace agreement.
The latest fighting follows Renamo raids in April and June in Sofala province. It is taking place several hundred kilometres (miles) north of the capital Maputo in a rural province, but has raised concerns that the country could slip back into a wider conflict that would derail a coal and offshore gas investment boom that has boosted economic growth
The state news agency AIM said President Guebuza condemned Saturday’s attack on the minibus travelling between Machanga and the port of Beira in Sofala province. The bus was burned out and two other civilian vehicles were hit in the ambush, AIM said.
Renamo, which has said it does not want a return to all-out war, did not immediately claim the ambush. It said this week one of Dhlakama’s top aides, former rebel and Renamo member of parliament Armindo Milaco, was killed in the raid by government troops on Dhlakama’s Sathunjira camp on Monday.
Dhlakama is in hiding in an undisclosed location and Renamo spokesmen say he is well.
AIM quoted Guebuza’s spokesman Edson Macuacua as saying the Mozambican president was still open to holding talks with the Renamo leader and appealed to him to come forward. “The only solution to any difference is dialogue,” Macuacua said.