Mozambique’s former rebel group Renamo has denied responsibility for the armed attack on the country’s main highway which killed one and injured ten amid tensions with the government.
Renamo, which announced last week that it was no longer party to the peace deal it entered with the Frelimo government following a raid on its leader’s base, said it had investigated and established it was not responsible.
“Renamo distances itself from the attack in Muxungue,” said Fernando Mazanga, the group’s spokesman.
“We carried out our investigations and came to the conclusion that it was not carried out by Renamo,” Mazanga told the AFP news agency.
The president’s office had blamed Renamo for the attack on three civilian vehicles in central Sofala province early on Saturday morning.
Armed men attacked the main north-south highway near the coastal city Beira, a stretch of road where Renamo fighters have been targeting civilian vehicles over the past six months.
The assault came a day after Renamo announced its leader’s right-hand man and member of parliament Armindo Milaco had been killed when the group’s main headquarters fell to government forces on Monday.
Renamo takes its name from a Portuguese acronym as does Frelimo, which has been in power since independence from Portugal
The movement was founded in 1975 following independence, and waged a military campaign against Frelimo, then a Marxist-Leninist party. The conflict ended with a peace agreement in 1992.
But the peace accord unravelled last week, with Renamo vowing to attack government installations and civilians after its headquarters were attacked by government troops.
Saturday’s attack was the second this week after Renamo declared that the 1992 peace deal was over.
“Armed men came out of the woods, opened fire and hit the driver in the forehead or the face,” said Felisberta Moutinho, a survivor of the attack.
A source at the Muxungue rural hospital confirmed one dead and at least nine wounded. Moutinho said 10 were wounded.
She attributed the assault to Renamo, but a Renamo spokesmen declined to comment.
A group of cars had been travelling northbound from the Machanga district towards the coastal city Beira when the gunmen attacked three vehicles.
“They kept shooting at the passengers. We left the bus and fled. Some fled through the windows, others were hit by bullets,” Moutinho told the AFP news agency.
She said she ran into the woods with her two children until she found a group of police vehicles.
“A while later we heard explosions,” she said.
“They stole all our things and then set fire to the bus.”
Four people were seriously wounded and six others had light injuries, she said.