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The BBC's Gavin Hewitt in Harare
"A new and ominous development"
 real 28k

The BBC's Greg Barrow in Harare
"Only security guards are believed to have been present in the building"
 real 28k

The BBC's Jane Standley in Harare
"This is the first time that Zimbabwean police have moved against war veterans"
 real 28k

Sunday, 23 April, 2000, 01:57 GMT 02:57 UK
Bomb attack on Harare newspaper
Blast scene
The blast occurred near an opposition newspaper office
An explosion in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, has shaken the offices of an independent newspaper.

Eyewitnesses say they heard a loud bang and saw a cloud of smoke. There were no reports of casualties.

Police said a bomb, apparently thrown from a passing car, exploded against the entrance to an art gallery next to the front door of the Daily News.

The newspaper has been vocal in its opposition to the government of President Robert Mugabe.
Opposition supporter
An opposition supporter at Saturday's rally

The explosion occurred at 2115 local time (1915 GMT), when the streets of Harare's central business district were almost empty.

Correspondents say the attack will only heighten tensions in the already politically charged country where hundreds of white farms have been occupied by black squatters.

The blast followed a rally by the opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, at which its leader Morgan Tsvangirai accused government supporters of running a campaign of violence and intimidation ahead of general elections.

Farmers rescued

Earlier on Saturday, Zimbabwe police rescued two white farmers who were beaten by war veterans who were occupying land.

Zimbabwe farm squatters
Mr Mugabe's supporters have occupied more than 1,000 farms
Previously police have not intervened in such attacks, and President Robert Mugabe has encouraged the illegal occupation of white-owned farms to go ahead.

The leader of the Commercial Farmers Union, Tim Henwood, said farmer Ian Miller and his manager Keith McGraw were frog-marched to their workers' village about 80km (50 miles) north-east of Harare on Saturday.

The militants questioned the pair about their political views for several hours before eight police officers moved in and escorted the farmers back to their homestead.

The men suffered minor injuries.

Further attacks on white farmers and their black employees were reported on Friday and Saturday, while the crowds of squatters on some farms grew.

Farmer's funeral

In Bulawayo, in the south of the country, hundreds of people attended the funeral of white farmer Martin Olds, who was shot dead on Tuesday - the latest in a series of killings related to the political crisis.
Mrs Olds weeps
Mrs Olds at the funeral

The priest conducting the service condemned President Mugabe as a criminal who stood for violence and anarchy.

Many of the 300 mourners were dressed casually, having fled their farms with only the clothes they were wearing following the attack on Mr Olds.

On Friday, the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, Morgan Tsvangirai, attended the funeral of opposition activist Tiochaona Chiminya in the southern town of Masvingo.

Mr Chiminya, who worked as a driver for Mr Tsvangirai, was killed in a petrol bomb attack that the MDC blames on government supporters.

Leaders back Mugabe

Over the past two months, Zimbabwean Government supporters have illegally occupied more than 1,000 white-owned farms.

Zimbabwe land facts
Total population: 12.5m
White population: 70,000 (about 0.6%)
70% prime agricultural land white-owned (11m hectares)
1m blacks own 16m hectares - often in drought-prone regions
White-owned farms: 4,500
Southern African leaders expressed support for Mr Mugabe during a regional summit meeting at Victoria Falls on Friday.

At the summit - which was convened to discuss the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo - South African President Thabo Mbeki called on foreign donors to fund Zimbabwe's land reform programme.

The other leaders - Sam Nujoma of Namibia and Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique - supported Mr Mbeki's views.

There was no condemnation of Mr Mugabe's support for the illegal occupation of farm land.

The United Kingdom has said it is ready to discuss land reform in Zimbabwe, but land invasions and violence against white farmers must stop first.

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See also:

21 Apr 00 | Africa
Thousands join Zimbabwe march
21 Apr 00 | Africa
Cook seeks Zimbabwe mediator
20 Apr 00 | Africa
Violence flares in Zimbabwe
20 Apr 00 | UK Politics
Queen's note upsets Zimbabwe whites
19 Apr 00 | Business
Zimbabwe's economy under threat
19 Apr 00 | Media reports
SA media urges action on Zimbabwe
17 Apr 00 | Africa
Farmer's widow wants justice
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