Six people have been killed in an attack by Renamo rebels in Mozambique, police said on Monday, the latest in a string of violent skirmishes between opposition fighters and government forces. “Armed men from Renamo ambushed a vehicle on Friday, firing at it until it caught fire,” police spokesman Daniel Macuacua told AFP.
“Six people were burnt to death.” All the victims were civilians, though their identities have not been released.
“We are still looking for any potential survivors who may have escaped,” Macuacua added.
Renamo, which waged a 16-year civil war that ended in 1992, has refused to accept the results of 2014 elections when it was beaten once more by the ruling Frelimo party, in power since independence 40 years ago. Since 2013, tensions have risen and Renamo fighters have again taken up arms in a battle that it says is against a Frelimo elite who have enriched themselves at the expense of the country.
Peace talks are underway, but authorities blame the stand-off for an uptick in violent attacks in northern and central parts of Mozambique. In May, 13 bodies were found in the restive centre of the country where security forces and Renamo rebels have frequently clashed, while the Mozambican Human Rights League (LDH) claimed at least 83 summary executions had been reported since the start of the year.
Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama has been living in hiding since October 2015 after he escaped two attacks against his convoy. He claims government troops are continuously attacking his stronghold in central Gorongosa in an attempt to lure him out or kill him. The clashes have intensified in recent months following Dhlakama’s declaration in December that he would take power in six of Mozambique’s 11 provinces which he claims he won in the 2014 elections.