6 killed in Mozambique clashes

MAPUTO, Mozambique (AP) — Mozambique’s president on Tuesday condemned an attack by alleged fighters loyal to an opposition group that killed six government troops and injured three others.

The assault on an arms depot happened Monday in Sofala province in central Mozambique, state radio and television said. There were no immediate reports on any casualties among opposition fighters from Renamo, a former rebel movement.

Renamo and the governing Frelimo party have held talks since the beginning of the year in the capital, Maputo, to try to resolve their differences. After independence from Portugal in 1975, Mozambique fell into a war between Frelimo, then a Marxist guerrilla group, and Renamo, which was backed by the white minority government that ruled neighboring South Africa at the time.

On Tuesday, President Armando Guebuza called for peace during a rally in the northernmost province of Niassa.

“There is no space for shedding blood in Mozambique,” he said. “Mozambicans deserve peace and tranquility in order to develop their country.”

Several combatants died in similar fighting in Sofala province in April. Renamo says the government has persecuted its members; Guebuza has urged Renamo to stick to politics and refrain from armed conflict. Municipal elections will be held later this year, and general elections are slated for next year.

In the latest fighting, Basilio Antonio, an injured government soldier, said between 100 and 150 opposition fighters stormed an army barracks and attacked the soldiers with knives. He said the assailants did not have uniforms.

Antonio, who was missing after Monday’s clashes, said he managed to escape and walk to a hospital despite suffering wounds to his chest and back. He is one of two soldiers receiving treatment in intensive care at Beira Provincial Hospital. A third was released from the hospital Tuesday morning.

Simon Macuiane, head of the Renamo delegation at the ongoing talks with the government in Maputo, said he had no knowledge of the incident in Sofala.

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