According to a report carried by Mozambique Independent Television (TIM), the attack took place near the Pembe river at about 07.30. This is part of the most dangerous stretch of the highway between the Save river and the small town of Muxungue where military escorts accompany convoys.
In the exchange of fire one of the Renamo attacks and a member of the Mozambican riot police (FIR) were killed. Nine people were injured, two of them seriously, and were taken to Muxungue Rural Hospital.
Renamo prepared the ambush by digging a trench in the road during the night. This forced the military vehicle at the head of the convoy to stop, forcing the whole column of vehicles to come to a halt. Renamo then opened fire on the immobilized convoy.
Digging trenches in the road was a tactic used by Renamo during the war of destabilisation, when the road through Sofala province was made impassable for more than a decade.
The Friday attack comes after five days in which the convoys moved safely along the road without any incidents.
Also on Friday morning, Renamo gunmen in the district of Rapale, in the northern province of Nampula, shot at a truck belonging to the company Sonil. According to a report on Radio Mozambique, although he was injured in the chest, the driver did not stop, but drove the truck straight through the ambush.
He drove to the Rapale health centre, where he received first aid, before being transferred to Nampula Central Hospital
The police confirmed the attack, and said that eight armed men were involved, the Nampula provincial police spokesperson, Miguel Bartolomeu, promises that the police would hunt down the attackers, detain them and bring them to justice.
These men are believed to be former bodyguards who once guarded the house owned by Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama in Nampula city. There were said to be 18 of them, and they left the city on 22 October. Eight of them were subsequently detained at a camp they were trying to establish in Rapale.
Meanwhile, the political wing of Renamo in Maputo is still claiming that it has no idea of the whereabouts of Dhlakama, and is therefore unable to deliver the invitation from President Armando Guebuza for Dhlakama to meet him for face-to-face talks in Maputo.
Guebuza proposed the date of 8 November for the talks, but Renamo claims that the invitation only reached the Renamo office on that date.
The Renamo national spokesperson, Fernando Mazanga, told reporters on Thursday “we are intermediaries; we are the vehicle for sending this invitation to the Renamo president. Unfortunately, we don’t know where he is”.
Dhlakama has not been seen in public since the Mozambican armed forces (FADM) occupied his bush camp at Satunjira, in Sofala, on 21 October. When the FADM moved into Dhlakama’s living quarters in Satunjira, he was no longer there. It was suggested at the time that he had fled in the direction of the Gorongosa mountain range.
“We are interested in this meeting taking place”, stressed Mazanga. “Dhlakama himself wants the meeting”.
He said Dhlakama had spoken on 18 October to the secretary of the Council of State (a body that advises Guebuza, and on which Dhlakama has a seat), and had asked for Guebuza’s phone number so that he could speak to him that same day.
“We want to believe that he (Guebuza) made the invitation in good faith”, added Mazanga. “And since he knows the reasons why Dhlakama is not at his home in Satunjira, we would like to believe that he will be able to find means to ensure that the Renamo leader returns to his previous situation”.
“We would like to believe that the President of the Republic will do all he can to give back to the Renamo leader peace, tranquility, and the right to live where he likes, as is enshrined in the law. Only after this can we have a dialogue”.Post published in: Africa News