The Mozambican police force has promised to block any attempt by opposition movement Renamo to install checkpoints on the country’s main highways, in what Renamo is billing as an effort to protect its members from kidnap and assassination attempts.

The EN1 and EN6 highways meet at Inchope. Via Google Maps

The EN1 and EN6 highways meet at Inchope. Via Google Maps

Speaking in the capital Maputo today, police spokesman Inacio Dina told journalists any Renamo checkpoints would be illegal, and the police “will use the legitimate means it has in its mandate to restore order.”

Horacio Calavete, a Renamo official in Beira, the capital of central province Sofala, told reporters on Monday 8 February that Renamo would set up road blocks at “strategic points” on the north-south EN1 highway, and the east-west EN6 that runs between Beira and the Zimbabwean border in the province of Manica.

Calavete said the move would check ‘suspicious’ cars moving between the centre and south of the country, in particular around the town of Inchope where the EN6 crosses the EN1. Renamo decided on the move in a meeting at party headquarters in Gorongosa last Saturday, he said, in an attempt to end a wave of kidnappings and assassinations that they allege is taking place in Manica, Sofala and Tete provinces.

Last week, Renamo claimed its local representative in Gondola, a small town on the EN6 between Inchope and Chimoio, the capital of Manica, was abducted and later killed.

The alleged incident is the latest in a series of claims and counter-claims from both Renamo and the Frelimo-led government that each side is attacking individuals on the other side.

Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama has been in hiding, supposedly in Gorongosa, since two attacks on his convoy along the EN6 in September 2015 were followed by an armed siege of his house in Beira in October. The government denies involvement in the roadside ambushes, but Zitamar News has seen evidence of government forces’ involvement in at least one of the two incidents.

In January 2016 Manuel Bissopo, Renamo Secretary General and Dhlakama’s second-in-command, survived an apparent assassination attempt as he got into his car in Beira. His bodyguard was killed in a hail of bullets from unknown attackers. Bissopo remains in hospital in South Africa.

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