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Friday, 15 September, 2000, 16:05 GMT 17:05 UK
MDC offices raided again
MDC supporters
The MDC did well in June's election
Police in Zimbabwe have raided the offices of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), removing documents and computer discs.

It is the third time that police have visited the party offices this week - on earlier occasions they seized documents, and arrested four party officials.

The raids follow Monday's explosion at the party headquarters, which the MDC has blamed on the government.

The four men arrested have since been released without charge.

Police spent much of Friday outside the offices, denied entry by staff who insisted that their attempts to remove documents were illegal.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai: Right-hand man was arrested
The MDC had hoped that there would be no movement until a court hearing scheduled for next Monday ruled on the validity of the police operation.

The police went ahead with the search without waiting for a court decision.

Armed police

MDC employees opened the office doors after more than 20 police, many armed with automatic weapons, made it clear they would break in with battering rams and bolt-cutters if they were further refused entry.

They then cleared the offices of documents and computer discs, even taking stationery and cheque books.

MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube described the operation as "madness".

He said the party was already taking legal action to recover its property and again accused the government of waging a campaign of intimidation and harassment against the opposition.

Our correspondent says the latest developments are likely to reinforce Zimbabwe's reputation for officially-sponsored lawlessness.

Officials released

The activists detained on Thursday include Nelson Chamisa, the head of the party's youth wing, and Gandhi Madzingwa, the personal assistant of party leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

They were released without charge after several hours.

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:

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