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Thursday, 14 February, 2002, 12:53 GMT
War vets wreak havoc in Bulawayo
Archive photo of Zimbabwe war veterans
Police Failed to rein in the war veterans
By Thabo Kunene in Bulawayo

Hundreds of self-styled war veterans and supporters of the ruling Zanu-PF party went on the rampage in Zimbabwe's second largest city of Bulawayo on Wednesday evening.

Dozens of people, amongst them late night shoppers, were injured in a further escalation of political violence ahead of presidential elections next month.

Earlier this week, petrol bombs struck a printing press and a newspaper office in Bulawayo, following warnings from Zanu-PF supporters.

Trouble started when the mob left the ruling party's provincial headquarters in the south-western city and marched into the city centre beating up anyone they came across.

Taxis were stoned and drivers beaten up.

People fled in different directions.

Those who tried to seek protection from the riot police were chased away.

Police role

The riot police, according to eyewitnesses, said they were not there to protect MDC supporters.

The police watched and did nothing as the war veterans beat up passers by and sang revolutionary songs glorifying president Robert Mugabe.

Some wore ruling party T-shirts.

The mob also forced their way into one restaurant where they beat up those having dinner.

One group then went to Emakhandeni township, another group to Emganwini, where they went house to house asking people to surrender their national identity cards.

Without their identity cards, people cannot vote.

The elections are on 9-10 March, with President Robert Mugabe facing his strongest challenge in 22 years.

See also:

11 Feb 02 | Africa
Newspaper attack in Zimbabwe
16 Nov 01 | Africa
War vets rampage through Bulawayo
13 Feb 02 | Africa
Zimbabwe poll monitors row grows
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