MAPUTO – Mozambique’s opposition leader Afonso Dhlakama escaped unhurt when his convoy was hit by gunfire while returning from a rally in the central Manica province in what police said was crossfire.
Police said the bullets that struck three cars in his convoy were not aimed at the former rebel Renamo commander’s convoy but targeted a motorist who had refused to stop at a road block.
“Police ordered a car (not linked to the Renamo convoy] to stop for a routine check. But the car didn’t stop, so the police opened fire,” Manica province police inspector Manuel Lourenço told AFP.
“However, as the Renamo convoy was passing by they received some bullets,” said Lourenco.
But Dhlakama believes the attack was deliberately targeted at him.
“This was a planned attack,” Dhlakama declared at a press conference held in Chimoio a few hours later, according to local media.
He said Mozambique’s ruling party “Frelimo is behind it.”
Police refused to give further details of the attack.
Dhlakama’s car was not hit, but three of those that were following his were struck, leaving three wounded, according a local journalist who witnessed the attack.
Renamo waged a 16-year civil war against the formerly marxist Frelimo government. That conflict ended in 1992 after an estimated one million people had been killed.
After a 20-year hiatus, Renamo supporters began a low-level insurgency in late 2013, attacking buses and cars on the main north-south highway after government forces raided Dhlakama’s bush hide out.
A deal was reached last year to end that second, less bloody, conflict.
Despite the September 2014 ceasefire, low key skirmishes between Renamo and the military have resumed in recent months in the central coal-rich Tete province, forcing some people to flee to neighbouring Malawi, according to local reports.