Mozambican Military Ready to Respond to Renamo Attacks

Mozambique’s armed forces are ready to respond to a series of attacks by militia sympathetic to the country’s main opposition party, the head of the country’s armed forces said.

Three people were killed in an attack on a bus in the central province of Sofala on April 6 while four members of Mozambique’s special police force and a militiaman loyal to the Mozambican National Resistance, or Renamo, died in clashes in the same area on April 4, according to the government.

“We are ready waiting for the head of state to respond to Renamo’s initiative,” Paulino Macaringue, chief of the armed forces, told reporters after a Womens’ Day ceremony in Maputo, the capital, yesterday.

Renamo, formerly backed by South Africa’s apartheid government, fought a 15-year civil war against the ruling Front for the Liberation of Mozambique, or Frelimo, that ended in 1992 with a peace agreement brokered by church groups. The party last year said it could resume conflict and complained that elections in 2009, won by Frelimo, were unfair.

The fighting last week occurred in the district of Muxungwe after Renamo militiamen attacked members of the Rapid Intervention Force, the police said in a statement. Renamo said it was retaliating for a police raid on its office the day before.

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“We want to inform the national and international community that we are tired of being oppressed by the Frelimo government and will retaliate for each attack with all our power,” Renamo Secretary-General Ussufo Momade told reporters in Maputo last week.

Cape Town-based Intercape, a long-haul bus service, said one of its coaches was attacked by armed men near Beira on April 6. Two passengers were injured and there were no fatalities, it said in an e-mailed statement. The daily service from Beira to Maputo has been suspended, it said.

President Armando Guebuza called yesterday for talks with Renamo.

“Renamo must stop their attacks and come to dialog,” Guebuza said. “The government is always open to talks to preserve the peace and stability in Mozambique.”

Public transport operators have ceased traveling at night in some parts of Mozambique.

Mozambique is the site of an aluminum smelter operated by BHP Billiton Ltd. while Rio Tinto Group and Vale SA have coal operations in the country. Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and Eni SpA have discovered natural gas off its coast while Sasol Ltd. operates a gas field.

“We are monitoring the situation closely as the priority is the safety of our employees,” Johannesburg-Sasol said in an e-mailed response to questions.

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