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Abductions, Beatings Of Zimbabwe Opposition Continue; State Accused

The Zimbabwean government's ongoing crackdown on the opposition did not abate over the Easter holiday as security agents invaded the home of opposition activist Philip Katsande early Saturday and shot him three times in the arms and chest.

Katsande, provincial executive for Harare Province for the Movement for Democratic Change faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai, was listed in critical condition at the state-run Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare where he was under police guard.

He was hit by bullets fired by security agents into a ceiling space where he had hidden when they forced their way into his home, opposition sources said.

Another Tsvangirai faction activist, Solomon Madzore, secretary general of the MDC faction's national youth assembly, was abducted at gunpoint in the capital on Sunday morning. He was beaten and later located at the Stoddart Police Station in the Mbare suburb of Harare where he is alleged to have been beaten again before being transferred Monday afternoon to Harare Central Police Station.

His lawyer, Tafadzwa Mugabe of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, went to Harare Central but was not allowed to see his client.

To date the official crackdown has focused on opposition activists in urban centers, but now is said to be targeting officials and members of the MDC in rural areas.

Torture centers are said to have been established in the rural constituency of Seke in Mashonaland East Province, where uniformed forces and Zanu PF militia members are said to be routinely brutalizing civilians. Villagers told a VOA reporter that they are living in fear, forcing some of them to flee into towns and cities.

Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of the Tsvangirai MDC faction told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that his party believes the government wants to instill fear in the opposition well before the 2008 elections.

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