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Foreign Journalists Held Amid Backlash By Zimbabwe Government, Ruling Party

Though stripped of its majority in Zimbabwe's lower house of parliament, the closely intertwined government of President Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU-PF party gave indications of lashing back at the ascendant opposition and other targets.

The Zimbabwe Peace Project, a non-governmental organization, Friday said there has been a surge in violence against opposition members since the March 29 election.

A statement issued by the Peace Project said it had documented cases of opposition members being harassed and intimidated by police for publicly celebrating the house victory by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. It said ZANU-PF officials and liberation war veterans have unleashed terror on opposition activists.

Peace Project Director Jestina Mukoko told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that such reports indicate the population is getting restless and urged the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to wrap up its tabulation of results.

Elsewhere, two foreign journalists and several other people were taken into custody late Thursday when police raided York Lodge in Harare, a small hotel. Three were released a few hours later, including the owner of the lodge, sources said.

But the two foreign journalists, including correspondent Barry Bearak of the New York times and a British journalist, were still in police custody late Friday. Sources said the attorney generals office has indicated authorities will not prosecute, but the police continued to hold the journalists at the Harare Central Police Station.

Two engineers working for a South African satellite company who were arrested on March 27 were in court Friday facing charges of violating Zimbabwe’s media law. The two were acquitted - then rearrested by police as they left the magistrate's court.

Legal officer Wilbert Mandinde of the Media Institute of Southern Africa-Zimbabwe representing Sipho Moses Maseko and Abdulla Ismail Gaibee, told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that such arrests of journalists shows the government does not want the world to know what is going on in the country.

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