MAPUTO – Fresh clashes between Mozambican government forces and the main opposition Renamo party resulted in several deaths, police said Tuesday, while denying reports that more than 200 had been killed.
The government has vowed to disarm Renamo, which has refused to accept the results of last year’s elections that returned the long-ruling Frelimo party to power.
Renamo, which waged a 16-year civil war in the southern African nation until 1992, has threatened to take power by force in central and northern Mozambique, where there have been a number of recent skirmishes.
The latest clashes began last Wednesday in Morrumbala in the centre, where Renamo has recently installed a new military base.
Police spokesman Inacio Dina did not release a specific death toll, but said the figure of more than 200 reported by some newspapers and on social media was false.
“There sure is human and material losses, but not of this size,” he told a news conference in the capital Maputo.
Home minister Basilio Monteiro declared Friday at Gorongosa in central Mozambique that government forces would continue their campaign to disarm Renamo until its last base was dismantled, state news agency AIM reported.
Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama has accused the government of two recent attempts to assassinate him, including an attack on his convoy last month in which 24 people died.
He fled into the bush and remained in hiding for two weeks before returning to his residence in the central city of Beira – where police surrounded the house and forced his personal guard to surrender their weapons.
“Our focus is to continue collecting weapons from the Renamo residual forces, and if they don’t do it voluntarily, we will continue our operations to retrieve them” said Dina.
Tensions in Mozambique have risen in recent months as a peace process that was supposed to lead to the integration of Renamo fighters into the police and the military faltered in August