Mozambican Attack Kills Two; Renamo Denies Responsibility

Two people died after attacks today by militants in Mozambique’s central Sofala province two days after the Mozambican National Resistance, known as Renamo, threatened to disrupt rail and road traffic in central Mozambique. Renamo denied responsibility.

The two were taken to Muxungue hospital after the attacks and died there, Maputo-based Miramar television reported, citing officials at the facility. Armed bandits shot at a passenger bus and a truck today, Arnaldo Muchowe, a government official in the area, said by phone. This follows a similar attack on a bus April 6 and a dawn raid on a military weapons store June 17 that left at least six dead.

The southern African nation’s government blamed the June 17 attack on the Mozambican National Resistance, an opposition group known as Renamo, which was formerly backed by South Africa’s apartheid government. The group fought a 15-year civil war against the ruling Front for the Liberation of Mozambique, or Frelimo, that ended in 1992. The party last year said it may resume the conflict and complained that elections in 2009, won by Frelimo, were unfair.

Jeronimo Malagueta, Renamo’s spokesman, on June 19 said his party wasn’t responsible. He was arrested yesterday, Fernando Mazanga, another spokesman for the group, said in a text message today.

“There are many Mozambicans angry with the social and economic situation and obviously they can use the moment to express themselves using violence in our name,” Rahil Khan, a spokesman for Renamo, said after a meeting of senior Renamo officials in Maputo today. There are talks with the government over Malagueta, he said. “We expect to see him released in the next couple of hours.”

Rio Tinto Plc, which mines coal in the southern African country alongside Vale SA, said yesterday it was monitoring events in the region after Renamo threatened to disrupt the Sena rail line. Coal is transported through Sofala Province, where the incidents occurred, from Tete to the north.

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