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Zimbabwe Opposition Member Murdered In Deepening Post-Election Crisis

Politically inspired violence continues to mount in Zimbabwe’s rural areas. Sources in Makoni West constituency of Manicaland Province said Friday that suspected armed war veterans shot and killed 40-year old Tabitha Marume of Hera village there.

Marume died on the way to a hospital in the provincial capital of Mutare, according to the sources, who said her body was at the Mutare offices of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change formation led by Morgan Tsvangirai. The sources said three people were abducted in the constituency and their whereabouts were unknown.

Violence against opposition supporters, which the opposition and civil society groups charge has been ordered and organized by the ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe with the help of government officials and agencies. It is believed that the violence is intended to punish those who voted for the opposition in March 29 elections, and to intimidate voters ahead of a presidential runoff ballot.

Such a runoff election has not been called, but observers believe ZANU-PF sees such an election as a way out of the dilemma created by the suppression since March 29 of the results of the presidential election. Tsvangirai's MDC formation contends that he won more than 50% of the votes cast on May 29 and is the president-elect.

Secretary General Tendai Biti of the Tsvangirai MDC formation told reporters in South Africa on April 10 that 10 opposition members had been killed as of that date.

U.S. Assistant Secretary for State for Africa Jendayi Frazer told journalists during a stop Thursday in Pretoria, South Africa, that Tsvangirai was the "clear" winner.

Sources in Makoni West, scene of Marume's reported murder, said a camp for war veterans and ZANU-PF youth militia has been established at Manonga Primary School in the constituency, with another at the Chiubvure Business Center in Makoni South. They said there 15 incidents of violence in the constituency on Friday alone.

In an incident Thursday, youth militia abducted an agricultural extension officer from his home in Makoni South, brutally beat him and left him for dead. A good Samaritan called an ambulance and he was rushed to a hospital in Mutare.

The attack victim, who identified himself only as Nyasha for fear he would be subject to reprisals, told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that ZANU-PF has armed the militia and war veterans in the Makoni area.

VOA spoke with a Zimbabwe Defense Forces member who said he was unhappy at being ordered to intimidate and commit violence against opposition members.

The Defense Forces member, named Mafirakureva, said his colleagues have been selected to terrorize the population in anticipation of a presidential runoff.

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