Rival supporters in Zimbabwe clash over leader's death

Bulawayo- Zimbabwe (PANA) -- Hundreds of former fighters in Zimbabwe's war of independence, armed with sticks and other missiles, Friday descended on offices and supporters of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to avenge the death of their provincial leader allegedly killed by MDC members last week.
Police said that several people were injured in the clashes as opposition supporters fought back, destroying the provincial offices of the MDC, which has denied it was behind the abduction and subsequent murder of local veterans' leader Cain Nkala.
Nkala, who headed the former fighters in the southern city of Bulawayo, was strangled to death Monday last week after being abducted at gunpoint from his home at night.
His body was found decomposed in a shallow grave by police on a farm in the outskirts of the city, after a massive police manhunt for him.
Several people arrested in connection with the murder, the latest in a string of similar killings in the southern provinces, were senior MDC officials, including a legislator of the party, who have been implicated in the crime.
Government leaders, including President Robert Mugabe, described Nkala's murder as a terrorist act, and sternly warned the MDC to desist from such assassinations, which many political analysts here have linked to next year's presidential elections.
But seething with anger over Nkala's murder, his followers have threatened to ignore government and police appeals for restraint in order to avenge the killing.
In Friday's clashes, the war veterans targeted offices and homes of MDC supporters, and property worth millions of dollars was damaged.
Tension was high throughout the day in Zimbabwe's second city, which traditionally has been a stronghold of the opposition party.

16 november 2001 20:09:00




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