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Zimbabwe Opposition Party Says Two Drivers Abducted, Still Missing

Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change party said Wednesday that two of its drivers had been abducted and remained missing as political violence continued across the country ahead of Friday's election in which President Robert Mugabe is the only candidate.

MDC sources said drivers Joshua Bakacheza and an unnamed youth were abducted Tuesday afternoon while they were transporting the property of the widow of slain activist Tonderai Ndira from the Mabvuku section of Harare to Kuwadzana, another capital district.

The unidentified youth, who was beaten and sustained serious head injuries, was dumped about 23 kilometers from Harare on the road south to Beatrice, the MDC sources said.

The other staff member Tendai Sauramba, driver for MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti, now in prison, was abducted Wednesday from central Harare and remained missing, they said.

MDC Transport Manager Barnabas Ndira told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the party is seeking the two missing drivers in hopes they are still alive.

Many MDC activists abducted in the wave of political violence that has swept the country since the March 29 round of elections were subsequently murdered.

A report issued Wednesday by the Zimbabwe Peace Project documented 4,359 incidents of human rights violations between the March 29 elections and the end of May. "The patterns of violence have...shifted with the violence being more physical with an increase in cases of assault, murder, malicious damage to property, and kidnapping," the group said.

Elsewhere, sources in Gweru, Midlands province, said ZANU-PF youths torched a gas station that was supplying fuel to non-governmental organizations in the area.

Also in Midlands, former member of parliament for Budiriro Emmanuel Chisvuure said his rural home in Gokwe-Chireya constituency was attacked by ruling party militia Sunday evening, and that several of his relatives were attacked. Chisvuure said the militia have now set up a base at the homestead where they are slaughtering the family's livestock.

Sources in Masvingo said soldiers and ZANU-PF militia forced shops in the town to close then forced residents to attend a rally in Mucheke Stadium in support of President Robert Mugabe's re-election in the run-off ballot taking place on Friday.

Though opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai announced Sunday that he would withdraw due to widespread and escalating violence, the government said the vote would go ahead.

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