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Last Updated: Friday, 2 July, 2004, 17:00 GMT 18:00 UK
'Attempt to kill' Mugabe rival
Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai
Morgan Tsvangirai is awaiting the verdict of a treason trial
Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai says he has survived an assassination attempt.

Axe-wielding assailants arrived in six trucks at a meeting Mr Tsvangirai was addressing on Friday in Mvurwi north of Harare, his MDC party says.

"Thank God none of them had guns," opposition MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi told BBC News Online.

Mr Tsvangirai escaped unhurt but 11 MDC youths were injured as they beat off the attackers, Mr Nyathi said.

Treason

Parliamentary polls are scheduled to be held next March and the party fears the attack is the beginning of a violent election campaign.

Police have not commented and there is no independent account of the event.

Mr Tsvangirai is awaiting the verdict of a treason trial in which he is accused of plotting to kill President Robert Mugabe, a charge he denies.


He was charged with treason for a second time in June 2003 and spent more than a week in police custody after calling for anti-government street protests and a nationwide strike.

The MDC filed a petition against the results of the March 2002 presidential poll citing legal irregularities and electoral violence by Mr Mugabe's supporters.

The High Court dismissed the first of these appeals, a date has not been set for second.

Mr Mugabe gained 54% of the 2002 vote compared with 40% for Mr Tsvangirai.

Local election observers and some of their international counterparts, including the European Union and the Commonwealth, declared the election neither free nor fair.

However African groups gave the poll a clean bill of health.


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