Taking of Satunjira entirely bloodless

Troops on the ground in the central Mozambican district of Gorongosa have confirmed that Monday’s occupation of the headquarters of the former rebel movement Renamo in Satunjira was an entirely bloodless affair.

Officers in the armed forces (FADM) told the independent television station STV that there were no fatalities and not even any injuries when Satunjira was taken.

One source said that at about 12.45 an FADM unit some two kilometres outside Satunjira was attacked by Renamo gunmen. Just as they had promised at the weekend, the FADM reacted to this immediately with fire from their heavy weaponry.

“We fired against the enemy using all our military capacities”, said the STV source, “and in 15 minutes we took the Satunjira base. Strangely enough, we didn’t find anybody there. There were no bodies and no wounded. We believe that the Renamo leader (Afonso Dhlakama) and his men have fled to Gorongosa mountain”.

The FADM burned down most of the huts in the Satunjira base, but spared those where Dhlakama and other Renamo leaders had been living. They removed all goods of value, including a car belonging to Renamo General Secretary Manuel Bissopo.

Among the goods found in the base was a large amount of ammunition – all of it rusted and quite useless

An unknown flag was also discovered, which FADM officers believe may have been the prototype of a new Renamo party emblem. The flag consists of horizontal blue, white, red and green stripes, with a central yellow circle on which appear what seem to be laurel wreaths.

Dinis Viola, the head of the Vunduzi administrative post, where Satunjira is located, also told STV there had been no casualties in the operation. “We’re very happy about this, particularly that no member of the civilian population suffered in this attack”, he said. “We just lament the fact that the people are still wandering in the bush, but we believe that as from today they will return to their homes”.

STV filmed inside the base, and its footage showed no signs of any dead or wounded, and no trails of blood. The indications are thus that the FADM occupied a base that had already been abandoned.

Since the first clashes in the Satunjira area last Thursday, local schools and health posts have been closed. On Monday morning some teachers returned to Vubduzi schools, but no pupils showed up. Similarly no sick people appeared at the Vunduzi health post.

Alfredo Andre, a community leader in Vunduzi, said “If it’s true that the FADM have stormed and occupied the Satunjira base, we feel relieved – but also concerned, bearing in mind that nobody from Renamo has been captured and they’ve got weapons. They might return at any moment and worsen the situation”.

“The head of the administrative post has asked us to go home”, Andre added, “but we’re afraid because we don’t know what Renamo may be planning. They are capable of anything”.

Post published in: Africa News

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