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Friday, 16 November, 2001, 15:12 GMT
War vets rampage through Bulawayo
Archive photo of Zimbabwe war veterans
Police rarely intervene to reign in war veterans
By Thabo Kunene in Bulawayo

Hundreds of war veterans and supporters of the ruling Zanu-PF party in Zimbabwe have gone on the rampage in the south-western city of Bulawayo.

They were protesting at the killing last week of a colleague, which has been blamed on the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

The war veterans, armed with axes and sticks, attacked shoppers and schoolchildren in the streets

Police in armoured vehicles, who escorted the angry war veterans, watched and did nothing.

Fourteen MDC activists have been charged with murdering the veteran, Cain Nkala, but the MDC has denied involvement in his death.

MDC offices on fire

Some of the war veterans arrived in Bulawayo on Friday morning by train from the capital, Harare.

They forced the closure of shops and offices and looted supermarkets.

I was among hundreds of shoppers who were attacked by the war veterans on the streets.

Several of my colleagues were injured while fleeing.

The war vets marched to the regional headquarters of the MDC but they found the offices locked.

They climbed the wall and set the offices on fire while police watched from their armoured vehicles.

A former cabinet minister and senior Zanu-PF party official was present when the war veterans burnt the MDC offices.

Council staff attacked

The official who had lost his parliamentary seat to the MDC in last year's election was seen laughing as the mob set fire to the offices of the MDC and looted nearby shops.

A fire brigade vehicle was stoned while trying to extinguish the fire.

Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai
Tsvangirai office was set on fire

From the opposition offices, the angry mob proceeded to the city hall apparently with the aim of attacking the city mayor who is from the MDC.

But he was tipped off about the attack and fled.

Tourists caught

After failing to locate the mayor, the war veterans vented their anger at his staff and council workers.

Hundreds of people who were at the city hall, including foreign tourists were attacked by them.

Eight tourists from Germany and Norway who were at the city hall were among scores of whites who were beaten up.

The mob was restrained by a white member of Zanu-PF as they tried to set cars on fire at one garage.

Police made no arrests and when I asked why the police who had escorted the war veterans did not protect schoolchildren who came under attack, they refused to speak to me.

Secretary general of the MDC, Welshman Ncube
"There are many who will not go to vote because of the intimidation"
See also:

16 Nov 01 | Africa
UN land team in Harare
12 Oct 01 | Africa
Mugabe opponent attacked
06 Oct 01 | Africa
Judge condemns Zimbabwe 'terror'
16 Nov 01 | Africa
Man arrested over Zanu-PF death
06 Jul 01 | Africa
Zimbabwe targets all white farms
21 Apr 00 | Africa
Violence flares in Zimbabwe
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