Maputo – Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama, who has been holed up in the forests of central Mozambique, on Wednesday claimed the military had staged a fresh attack against his base.
“Last Friday the Frelimo [ruling party] once again tried to attack us,” Dhlakama said from Gorongosa forest in a news conference via telephone to journalists gathered at the party headquarters in the capital Maputo.
“They [government troops] started firing from far and … then we let them come close. When they got very close we massacred them ” Dhlakama said, without specifying the number of dead or wounded.
“But why do they want to kill me?” he asked, making reference to a previous attempt on his life that forced him to retreat to the bush last year.
Dhlakama claimed the army had deployed 12 armoured vehicles and troops that he said included “mercenaries” from Angola, China, Tanzania and Zimbabwe near his mountainous base.
Last week AFP correspondents reporting from Vunduzi, near Renamo’s Satunjira base, saw 10 armoured vehicles and around 30 soldiers.
Security spokesperson Inacio Dina said the army had not launched any attack on Renamo nor had it hired mercenaries.
Instead, he accused Renamo of attacking “civilians, institutions and even the armed forces positions. And the armed forces must respond to protect the population,” he told AFP.
According to Dina, Renamo fighters have killed seven civilians and wounded 30 in 18 attacks staged over the past two weeks.
Most of the attacks have occurred along the main roads in central Mozambique.
Government and Renamo late last month appointed teams to prepare for talks between President Filipe Nyusi and Dhlakama, and clear the way for the resumption of peace negotiations that stalled last year.
Since 2013, tensions have risen and Renamo fighters have again taken up arms in a battle that it says is against a Frelimo elite that has enriched itself at the expense of the country.
The clashes have intensified in recent months following Dhlakama’s declaration in December that he would take power in six of the country’s 11 provinces.
Source: News 24
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