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Zimbabwe Villagers Gripped By Fear As Death Toll From Violence Mounts

Villagers around Chiweshe in Zimbabwe's Mashonaland Central Province are living in fear these days as funeral preparations begin for 11 local members of the opposition who were beaten to death Monday, allegedly by ruling party militia members.

Sources in the area said post-mortems were carried out on four bodies at Concession Hospital mortuary while seven bodies were being held at Howard Hospital. The injured were ferried to hospitals in the local area and in Harare, the sources told VOA.

A Zimbabwe Republic Police source said Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri called a meeting on Wednesday at Morris Depot Sports Club in Harare, allegedly to organize further violence and to intensify the anti-opposition campaign which began shortly after March 29 elections in which the opposition posted large gains.

The source said only inspectors and higher police ranks were involved in the meeting. The source said more terror teams led by senior police officers have been dispatched to Shamva, Mazowe and Mount Darwin, also in Mashonaland Central.

Sources in Shamva South said homes at Logan, Soma and Kief farms were burned on Tuesday, while at Mukungurutse Farm dwellings were also burned and more than 70 goats were killed. The sources said some of the victims of the violence in Shamva South had collected at the Shamva police station late on Wednesday.

In Murehwa North, in Mashonaland East Province, 21 ZANU-PF youths accused of burning down three homesteads in Chitowa were released Tuesday on Z$200 million (about US$1) bail apiece. Sources told VOA that Mashonaland East Governor Ray Kaukonde provided the funds to bail out the suspected arsonists.

Mazowe North opposition official Biggie Chigonero told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that funeral arrangements were being made Wednesday for four of the Chiweshe residents killed in this week's assault.

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