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London Summons Zimbabwe High Commissioner Over Threat To Envoy

A thinly veiled threat against a British diplomat serving in Harare that was published in a state-controlled Zimbabwean newspaper has prompted British authorities to demand an explanation from Zimbabwe’s diplomatic representative in London.

An article published in the state-controlled Herald newspaper under the pseudonym of David Samuriwo appeared to threaten British Embassy Second Secretary Gillian Dare. The article said that "it will be a pity for her family to welcome her at Heathrow Airport in a body bag, like some of her colleagues from Iran and Afghanistan.”

Reports said Peter Rickets, the permanent under secretary of state at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office summoned Machinga Wednesday and told him that the British government is taking such threats seriously.

Rickets warned Machinga that Britain holds Zimbabwean authorities responsible for the protection of British diplomats, as Britain provides protection for the Zimbabwean mission in London.

The article on the Herald's opinion page accused Dare of "blatant interference in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe" and of being the “purse holder and financier” of what the paper charged was a campaign of violence by the Zimbabwean opposition.

Political analyst John Makumbe, a senior lecturer in political science at the University of Zimbabwe, told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the British government is justified in taking the threat seriously given the escalation of abductions, brutal beatings and murders by alleged state security agents.

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