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Zimbabwe Opposition Members Abducted In Harare In Broad Daylight

Zimbabwe opposition sources said Wednesday that two more activists were abducted on Tuesday in a continuation of a campaign the country's political and civic opposition alleges has been organized by the government and state security apparatus in the intention of crushing the opposition even as regional mediation efforts begin.

Darlington Madzonga, former chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly and personal assistant to Kuwadzana member of parliament Nelson Chamisa - spokesman for the Movement for Democratic Change faction of MDC founder Morgan Tsvangirai - and Godfrey Coaster, were abducted in Harare in broad daylight, the sources said.

Sources in the MDC faction said they had no information as to their whereabouts. The many other opposition activists abducted in the past several weeks have been badly beaten, sometimes tortured, and dumped in remote areas outside the capital.

Two other activists of the Tsvangirai MDC faction, Sibukile Nkala and Temba Nyathi, arrested Tuesday in Bulawayo, were taken to Harare overnight, sources said.

In Penhalonga, rural Manicaland, armed soldiers severely beat Paul Shereni, breaking his right hand. Shereni works under Tsvangirai faction Manicaland treasurer Brian James. Eight other members with Shereni were also beaten, some seriously.

The campaign of violence, which is alleged to involve the police, the army, and youth militia of the ruling ZANU-PF party, has widened in the wake of summit of the Southern African Development Community last month at which regional leaders named South African President Thabo Mbeki to mediate a solution to the Zimbabwe crisis.

Presidential and parliamentary elections have been set for March 2008, and elections in Zimbabwe have often been accompanied by violence. President Robert Mugabe, nominated by the ruling party late last month, is likely to face Morgan Tsvangirai, who he narrowly defeated in a 2002 election that the opposition charges was rigged.

Willas Madzimure, member of parliament for the Kambuzuma suburb of Harare and Tsvangirai faction spokesman in Harare Province, told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that party member morale is holding up because the activists believe such developments signal an end to ZANU-PF rule.

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