Three civilians killed in central Mozambique attack

Mozambique's army has taken over policing in the region but it appears to be struggling against a stubborn militant insurgency (AFP Photo/ADRIEN BARBIER) (AFP/File)

Maputo (AFP) - Three people were killed in central Mozambique on Wednesday, police and witnesses said, the latest in a series of attacks following an election marred by violence and fraud allegations.

General elections on October 15 have challenged a fragile peace deal between Mozambique's ruling party Frelimo and its arch-enemy Renamo -- a former rebel group turned opposition party against whom Frelimo fought a bitter war between 1975 and 1992.

The southeastern African country witnessed one of the most brutal campaigns in its history, and Renamo has accused Frelimo of breaching the peace agreement by using violence and intimidation on voting day.

Several attacks have been reported since the poll, which saw Frelimo's candidate President Filipe Nyusi land a second term with 73 percent of the vote.

Wednesday's incident took place in the central province of Manica, where unidentified gunmen ambushed a mini bus and opened fire on its passengers.

"They shot against the front tires of the bus and hit my legs," said driver Chiringa Taimo, who fled the scene as the attackers set fire to his vehicle.

"They followed me through the bush and I begged them not to kill me, so they took my wallet and went," he added.

Taimo told AFP one of his passengers and two other civilians died at the scene. At least three people were seriously injured.

The bus was travelling from the village of Pindanganga to the provincial town of Gondola.

"We heard gunshots so I opened the door," Taimo's assistant Zito Chico said. "When we began to run away, a bullet passed near my head."

Police confirmed the attack but said the authors remained unknown.

An armed Renamo splinter group claimed responsibility for an attack in the nearby Gorongosa district that left five people dead last week, including two police officers.

Renamo -- who were initially blamed for that attack -- have distanced themselves from the violence and reiterated their commitment to the peace deal, which was signed in August.

The party's leader Ossufo Momade came second to Nyusi with under 22 percent of the vote.

Meanwhile, violence has flared up in Mozambique's far north where suspected Islamist extremists have waged a campaign of terror for two years.

Witnesses in Cabo Delgado province said at least 14 people were killed in two separate attacks last week.

Since 2017, the province has suffered a wave of deadly offensives that has killed 300 civilians and forced tens of thousands to flee their homes.


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