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Zimbabwe Opposition And Physicians Say Post-Election Violence Surging

The Zimbabwean opposition said Friday that an official crackdown on its members by police, soldiers and youth militia of the ruling ZANU-PF party has intensified. with more than 1,000 members of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Morgan Tsvangirai arrested since the party staged a general strike on Tuesday.

MDC officials said 300 supporters have been arrested in Harare alone in the wake of an open-ended worker stayaway called to pressure the government of President Robert Mugabe to release results of a March 29 presidential election.

Sources in the Chikomba West constituency in Mashonaland East Province said seven opposition supporters have been abducted and not heard from since. They said many opposition members have fled their homes and headed for safer urban areas.

Sources in Chikomba said youth militia have set up a torture camp at Daybrook Farm near Chivhu, and that soldiers have taken over food distribution in the area.

Residents of Harare and the satellite town of Chitungwiza were beaten by rampaging soldiers on Thursday night, various sources said.

Among those beaten was Zimbabwe Union of Journalists President Mathew Takaona, who told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri he lost Z$1.6 billion to the marauding soldiers.

Meanwhile, lawyers representing detained members of the opposition and a journalist said that the police are bearing down by pressing heavier charges.

Though some were released after admitting guilt on lesser charges, lawyer Charles Kwaramba said police have brought attempted murder charges against MDC officials Kudakwashe Matibiri and Luke Tamborinyoka, and journalist Frank Chikowore.

The three were initially accused of malicious damage to property in connection with the burning of a bus in Warren Park Tuesday, allegedly by opposition militants.

A Zimbabwean doctors group said it is “deeply concerned" the government is failing to do anything to stop political violence now spreading from rural to urban areas.

Dr. Douglas Gwatidzo, chairman of the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that his members have attended to more than 200 patients injured by organized political violence and torture, and fear post-election reprisals are spiraling upward.

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