Peace deal off: Renamo
Mozambican police flee rebel attack
Former Mozambican rebel group Renamo staged a pre-dawn attack on a police station yesterday after declaring the end of the peace deal that ended one of Africa's worst civil wars two decades ago, officials and locals said.
Police fled their posts in the central town of Meringue, in Sofala province, when Renamo fighters opened fire in an intensification of hostilities between the former rebels and Frelimo, the ruling party against which Renamo fought a 16-year war that ended in 1992.
"Gunmen attacked the police station but fortunately there were no casualties because the policemen fled," Maringue's administrator, Antonio Absalao, said.
The town is about 35km from Renamo's military base, which government troops seized on Monday in an operation Renamo said was aimed at killingits leader, Afonso Dhlakama.
"Early this morning, armed men supposed to be Renamo attacked," said Romao Martins, a teacher.
"For one hour shooting could be heard from all directions and people fled their homes," he said.
Schools have been closed amid fears of a worsening violence.
A spokesman for Renamo - the Mozambique National Resistance, which became a political party with a parliamentary minority after the civil war - hinted that his group was responsible for the attack.
"The president of Renamo has lost control of the situation and you cannot blame . [him] for what happens from here on," Fernando Mazanga said. "The guerrillas are scattered and will attack without taking any orders."
Renamo, which took up arms against Frelimo - the Mozambique Liberation Front - after the country was given independence by Portugal in 1975, declared on Monday that it had pulled out of the peace agreement that ended the civil war.
But the declaration should be taken with a "pinch of salt", said SA Institute of International Affairs researcher Aditi Lalbahadur.
"It's very unlikely that you are going to see a return to war," she said.
Lalbahadur said war was not in the interests of the government, which had by far the more powerful armed forces.
"Mozambique is trying very hard to attract foreign investment so any type of political instability would be to its disadvantage," Lalbahadur said.