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Renamo: Mozambique govt. attacked us

The opposition movement said on Monday government forces attacked a jungle base in the country.

A file picture taken in Gorongosa’s mountains shows fighters of former Mozambican rebel movement Renamo receive military training. Jinty Jackson/AFP

MAPUTO - Mozambique's Renamo opposition movement said on Monday that government forces attacked a jungle base in the centre of the country where its leader, Afonso Dhlakama, was staying, forcing him to flee to an undisclosed location.

There were clashes last week in the area around the base in central Sofala province between Frelimo government forces and Renamo, a guerrilla group that waged a 1975-1992 civil war before making peace and becoming a political movement.

Spokesmen for Mozambique's defence and interior ministries said they had no fresh information on government operations against Renamo's Sathunjira base in the forested Gorongosa region, a Renamo stronghold in the civil war.

No reports on casualties were immediately available. Mazanga said government soldiers bombarded the base with heavy weapons before occupying it.

The renewed fighting, some 600 km north of the capital Maputo, followed Renamo raids in the province in April and June.

It also comes just a month before municipal elections which Renamo has vowed to boycott and disrupt because it accuses the ruling Frelimo party of monopolising economic and political power.

The violence has raised fears over stability in the southeastern African nation, which has one of the fastest-growing economies on the continent and which is attracting multi-billion dollar foreign investments in big coal and offshore gas discoveries.

President Armando Guebuza's government has accused Renamo of trying to destabilise the country and drag it back to war. It has sent extra troops into Sofala to protect rail and road traffic against ambushes.

Renamo was formed as an anti-communist rebel group in the 1970s by the secret service of then white-ruled Rhodesia, and has been the main opposition to Frelimo, a former Marxist movement, since the end of the war.

Analysts say this year's violence is a reaction to Renamo being pushed into obscurity by Frelimo, which is expected to dominate November's municipal elections and a nationwide poll in just over a year.

Major foreign mining investors include Brazil's Vale and global giant Rio Tinto.