- Death toll from Sept. 25 clash is 21, with 6 injured
- Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama in hiding after attack
Mozambican police have opened a criminal case against members of the main opposition party who were in a convoy involved in a Sept. 25 shooting that left 21 dead and six injured in the gas-rich southern African nation.
The case includes Afonso Dhlakama, leader of the Mozambique National Resistance, or Renamo, police spokesman Inacio Dina said at a press briefing Tuesday in the capital, Maputo. Police and Renamo militia made conflicting claims after the clash near the town of Amatongas in central Manica province. The regional police chief said the shooting was started by Renamo, which said its convoy was ambushed.
Renamo is the largest opposition political party in Mozambique and retains its military wing, which hasn’t disarmed since Mozambique’s civil war officially ended in 1992. The incident risks increasing tensions between Renamo and the government of Mozambique, where development of gas deposits could put the country on a path to becoming the third-largest supplier of gas chilled to liquid for shipment.
“Political uncertainty adds extra risk into foreign investors’ assessments of Mozambique,” Alex Vines, head of the Africa program at Chatham House, said from London on Tuesday.
The Sept. 25 incident was the second time in less than two weeks that Dhlakama had come under fire. The first happened on Sept. 12, when the authorities denied ordering an attack. After that shooting, Renamo said it would take revenge on the government and use “any means at its disposal.”
Dhlakama fled the latest shooting and is in hiding. Police want people to come forward with information on his whereabouts, Dina said.
“A deteriorating security situation in central Mozambique because of armed violence will further seed doubts that the Mozambican government can deliver on what it promises,” Vines said. “Investors are watching closely with concern.”