Mozambique's Renamo Threatens Coal Rail Line Used by Rio

The Mozambican National Resistance, an opposition group that fought a civil war against the government, threatened to disrupt the Sena rail line in the center of the country used to haul coal from mines owned by Rio Tinto Group and Vale SA.

The group, known as Renamo, said the threat to start disrupting rail and road traffic in the region from tomorrow is a response to government troop movements after an arms depot was attacked in the Savane area near the port of Beira earlier this week and at least six soldiers killed. Renamo denied responsibility for the attack.

“Mozambique’s government is concentrating troops to attack” Gorongosa, an area where Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama is based, Jeronimo Malagueta, a spokesman for the party, told reporters in the capital, Maputo, today. “Renamo’s militiamen will take positions to defend Gorongosa.”

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 the conflict and complained that elections in 2009, won by Frelimo, were unfair.

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

The government blamed this week’s attack on Renamo and halted the rail line for a day after the attack.

The state ports and rail company, known as CFM, doesn’t plan to halt the rail line after today’s threat, Alves Cumbe, a spokesman for the company, said in an interview.

“In terms of security we follow the government recommendations,” he said. The company hasn’t been contacted by the government, he said.

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