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Page last updated at 09:04 GMT, Friday, 4 July 2008 10:04 UK

Aid for Zimbabwe refuge seekers

Zimbabwean opposition party members are seen outside the US embassy in Harare
People outside the embassy say they were displaced in electoral violence

Aid organisations in Zimbabwe have provided food and other assistance to about 150 men who spent a cold night outside the US embassy in the capital.

About 50 women and children were taken away to shelter elsewhere overnight.

Some said they were seeking asylum after being attacked in electoral violence for supporting the opposition.

Meanwhile, military police have been seen forcibly closing down ruling party bases in townships used to intimidate people ahead of last week's election.

Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out of last Friday's presidential run-off, which President Robert Mugabe won unopposed, citing state-sponsored political violence.

Zimbabwean journalist Brian Hungwe said President Mugabe is due back from the African Union summit in Egypt.

Ruling party Zanu-PF youths have been mobilising people in the townships around the capital, Harare, to go to the airport to welcome him home, he says.

It has come as a shock to many township residents to see the security forces turning against Zanu-PF supporters, beating them up and telling them to shut their bases, the reporter says.

It is thought, he says, that now that the elections are over, the party wants to get rid of the unpopular bases and disband the militia.

House burned

Another 50 people joined the crowd outside the US embassy on Friday morning.

Embassy spokesman Paul Engelstad and Zimbabweans seeking help

They say they have nowhere else to go, but they have not been let inside the embassy grounds.

One man said his house was burned down in Mtoko, north-east of Harare, after the first-round vote.

After he left hospital he took refuge at the MDC's headquarters in Harare, but was evicted by police last week.

Earlier this week, African leaders called for a government of national unity.

But Mr Tsvangirai rejected talks on a unity government, saying the violence must end.

Since last Friday's run-off, the MDC says nine of its supporters have been murdered, hundreds more beaten and forced to leave their homes.

Almost 100 people have been killed and 200,000 left homeless since the MDC won the March vote, the opposition says.




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