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Thursday, 14 September, 2000, 17:10 GMT 18:10 UK
Zimbabwe activists arrested
ballot boxes
The MDC alleged widespread fraud during June's elections
Zimbabwean police have detained four officials of the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), following Monday's grenade attack on the party's headquarters.

The arrests come after a police raid on the offices earlier on Thursday.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai: Right-hand man was arrested
Those held for questioning include Nelson Chamisa, the head of the party's youth wing, and Gandhi Madzingwa, the personal assistant of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Our correspondent in Harare says the police action has been greeted with anger and contempt by the opposition.

"In a true democracy, the police do not harrass the victims of a criminal attack while making no attempt to identify and apprehend the real perpetrators of that crime," party secretary general Welshman Ncube said.

The fact that well-known opposition figures are among those being held has raised real fears.

Human rights activists say they view the detentions with extreme concern, giving the authorities' unenviable record of maltreating suspects in political cases.

Earlier, three of the party's offices in Harare were searched for what the police search warrant described as "weapons of war", including guns and grenades.

Dozens of police, armed with pistols, rifles and shotguns, conducted the search.

Explosion

The explosion outside the MDC headquarters on Monday night shattered windows but injured no one.

An opposition spokesman said the explosion was caused by a grenade and accused the government of being behind the attack.

Mr Ncube said the explosion was a continuation of the terror tactics used against the opposition during the recent parliamentary election campaign, in which more than 30 people were killed.

President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party won a narrow victory in that election, but now faces a strong opposition challenge in parliament for the first time since independence.

Another explosion occurred in April outside the offices of the main, privately-owned newspaper, the Daily News.

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See also:

23 Apr 00 | Africa
Bomb attack on Harare newspaper
27 Jun 00 | Africa
Zimbabwe opposition cries foul
12 Sep 00 | Africa
Blast at Zimbabwe opposition HQ
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