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Harare Doctors Report Rising Death Toll From Government Crackdown

Officials of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change said the state's crackdown on its leadership and supporters is continuing, sending a stream of injured members to seek treatment mainly in private hospitals. Harare hospital sources said eight to 10 people have died there from apparent blunt-instrument traumas.

William Bango, spokesman for MDC founder Morgan Tsvangirai said in a statement issued late Monday that about 35 people were being treated for injuries and gun shot wounds sustained in recent days.

Bango told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the latest attack on opposition members is the result of President Mugabe’s call on Friday to ZANU-PF youth to “deal” with opposition members in their neighborhoods.

The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights has expressed concern at the rising level of violence.

The organization's chairman, Douglas Gwatidzo, said the injured continue to flow into the Avenues Clinic where he works seeking treatment for injuries like those sustained by opposition officials and supporters last week while in the hands of police.

Medical sources said that since the confrontation March 11 in Highfield during which police shot an opposition activist to death, eight to 10 people have died at Harare Hospital from injuries consistent with being beaten with blunt objects.

The victims were identified as homeless or unidentified, but searches of their personal effects turned up recent pay slips, indicating they were not homeless, doctors said.

The physicians said there is growing suspicion within the medical community that such deaths were caused by beatings by state security agents.

Some doctors at state hospitals rejected the opposition charge that they have been ordered not to treat those hurt in the crackdown. But other doctors in state hospitals said that whether such patients are admitted for treatment can depend on the political affiliation of the physician in charge of the casualty department of a given hospital.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...