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The BBC's Jane Standley
"No one knows who carried out this attack"
 real 28k

Sunday, 23 April, 2000, 03:42 GMT 04:42 UK
Harare bomb raises tension
Police at blast scene
Police arrive at the scene of the explosion
Opposition activists in Zimbabwe say threats from members of President Robert Mugabe's ruling party are disrupting their election campaigning.

It was a bomb that exploded

Policeman in Harare

More opposition rallies are planned in Zimbabwe on Sunday, in the aftermath of a bomb attack on the offices of an independent newspaper.

Police said the bomb was thrown from a moving vehicle in front of the Daily News offices in the capital, Harare.

There were no casualties, but riot police sealed off the area.


Opposition supporter
An opposition supporter at Saturday's rally
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 occurred below the office of Geoff Nyarota, editor-in-chief of the Daily News - a new newspaper that has been critical of the government of President Robert Mugabe.

It blew out the windows of an adjacent art gallery.

Reports said that Mr Nyarota had received a letter which had made "unspecific threats" over recent articles.

The Daily News was launched last year. Until then nearly all national newspapers had been state-controlled. Mr Mugabe has frequently criticised the independent press.

Other organisations, including foreign journalists, have also been accused of biased coverage by the state-run media.

Opposition rally

The bomb blast followed a rally by the opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, the strongest challenger to the governing Zanu-PF party.


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

"We need an orderly and fair distribution of land," said MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Southern African regional leaders said after the talks with Mr Mugabe on Friday that Western governments should make good their promise at a 1998 donor conference to finance land reform.

"They are supporting that position. We have no problem with that," said Mr Tsvangirai. "But if they are endorsing Mugabe's lawlessness then we have a serious problem."

He was speaking at the rally in the black township of Muramdinda, 250 km (150 miles) south of Harare, where his driver and another party official were killed in a petrol bomb attack a week ago.

Farmers rescued

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

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 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.

Funerals

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.

On Friday, Mr 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.

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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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